Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door has expressed some displeasure with a new online voter registration tool recently unveiled by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office.
The new system was not very well thought out, was done without input from the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities and could create problems when it comes to verifying signatures on petitions, Door asserted.
But Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office has touted the new online registration system, saying it increases efficiency and accessibility for Missouri voters.
Missouri residents can now register to vote online by filling out a form and signing it through a computer, tablet or smartphone. It also allows voters to change their voter registration address.
After voters complete and sign the registration form online, Kander’s office will then print the form and mail it to the local election authority, a news release from the secretary of state says.
Door explained that allowing voters to electronically sign registration forms could present problems with verifying signatures of voters on petitions.
Now, some signatures on the petitions will have to be checked against an electronic signature, which may not look like a person’s actual signature, Door said. It is similar to how people may sign their name on a credit card terminal at a grocery store and the signature does not look the same as it would if signed on paper, she added.
Door said the clerks association plans to meet with the secretary of state’s office in January. The clerks association must work together with the secretary of state, Door added.
Kander’s office does not expect the new online system to create extra work for local officials.
“I am pleased that we have developed a way to make this process more convenient for voters, while not changing the procedure or adding additional burdens for local election authorities,” Kander said in the news release.
The Missourian contacted Kander’s office to get a response to Door’s statements about the system. Kander’s office replied with a prepared statement that said, “One of the great things about the new online voter registration form is that the process has only changed for the voter — it’s become simpler and more accessible. The rest of the registration process remains exactly the same for local election authorities.
“In just a week and a half, over 400 Missourians have taken advantage of this new tool. We’re excited that we’ve been able to make registering to vote more convenient for eligible Missourians while maintaining the integrity of the process.”
Democrat and Republican clerks in other counties have also voiced support for the new system, according to a press release issued by Kander’s office.
Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd, a Republican, was quoted in the news release from Kander’s office saying the new online registration will be convenient and modernize the voter’s experience.
Likewise, Phelps County Clerk Carol Bennett, a Democrat, said citizens can pay their taxes online and renew their license plates on the Internet, so it is time to offer the same convenience for voter registration.
Door, a Republican, agreed that the tool will provide an easier way for voters to register.
Still, Door said the secretary of state’s office implemented the new system without first discussing it with the county clerks association.
“We were really kind of surprised by it,” Door said.
The new online form can be found at www.sos.mo.gov/votemissouri.
Missouri is not the only state to use online registration tools. According to Kander’s office, 15 other states, including Kansas and Indiana, use online tools to make it more convenient for voters to register. Five other states are also looking into similar technology.
“I am committed to ensuring that all eligible Missourians have the opportunity to cast a ballot, and since you can’t vote unless you’re registered, we decided to do what we could to simplify the process and make it more convenient for voters,” Kander said in the news release. “Now, Missourians will have the opportunity to fill out their registration form in one step from their homes, instead of multiple steps at different locations.”
Franklin County has about 68,000 registered voters. Of those, about 60,000 are active while the other 8,000 are considered inactive because they have moved or never voted, Door has said.