The well-oiled Franklin County clerk’s election machine is in a bit of a holding pattern right now, awaiting guidance from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
The stall comes after a judge ruled the state’s Show It 2 Vote law may be unconstitutional and a ruling of this magnitude less than 30 days before a major statewide election has thrown a wrench into preparations statewide.
The law requires voters to verify their identity, citizenship and residence by presenting identification that includes valid government-issued photo identification.
The Missouri Attorney General’s office filed an appeal and a request for an emergency stay of the judge’s decision.
On Thursday morning, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft attempted to calm the fears of county clerk’s offices across the state.
“The judge’s decision has injected mass confusion into the voting process just weeks before an important election – an action the courts historically and purposely have not taken,” Ashcroft said. “To be clear, many of Missouri’s 116 local election authorities have already trained poll workers – as part of ID Option 2 – to require voters to sign a statement. The judge’s decision creates confusion for voters, as well as local election authorities. Remember, if you’re registered to vote, you can vote!”
Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door said her office will be able to deal with any potential changes, but she is anxiously awaiting word from Jefferson City.
“We start our election judge training next week,” Door said. “We currently have our legal counsel looking into the court case ruling as well.”
Door said there are two main issues county election officials are facing involving identification of voters.
“As of now, we don’t know what forms of ID we can ask them for or require,” Door said. “Voters usually show their voter cards we mail out or their driver’s license.”
The other identification issue that will need to be resolved quickly is the use of the electronic sign in on iPads.
“All of our iPads have the voter ID affidavit on them,” Door said. “Voters have to sign it affirming they are who they say they are. If the court ruling doesn’t change we have to take that off of all the iPads.”
Voter identification has been a hot topic nationwide with some groups saying it is unconstitutional and would prevent citizens without a driver’s license from being able to vote.
The original bill, which became Show It 2 Vote was sponsored by then State Rep. Justin Alferman from Hermann.
House Bill 1631, which would require voters to show photo identification, was originally passed by the General Assembly in May 2016.
It was then vetoed by then Gov. Jay Nixon, who said the legislation was an affront to Missourians.
In his veto letter, Nixon said putting additional and unwarranted barriers between citizens and their right to vote is wrong and detrimental to our system of government as a whole.
In another turn, Nixon’s veto was later overturned by the super majority Republican-dominated Legislature and was eventually placed on the November ballot for the voters of Missouri to decide.
Despite opposition from some, it was approved by a wide margin of 63 to 36 percent. It received 1,700,139 votes in favor of and 992,555 against.
In Franklin County the margin of passage was 69 to 30 percent. It received 33,774 votes in favor of and 15,147 votes against.