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How Missouri’s new voting laws could impact your ability to vote in the midterms

A man holding a sign that reads "Your vote counts"
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Voter ID requirements have changed in Missouri since the August primary.

Missouri has changed its requirements for accepted forms of voter identification since the August primary and put new restrictions on get-out-the-vote efforts.

Missourians going to the polls for next week’s midterm election are contending with new laws that may affect how — and whether — they can cast their ballots.

One of these new laws requires voters to have a valid, government-issued photo ID. That’s a big change for Missouri, as it restricts the kinds of ID accepted by election authorities. The voter ID change was part of a bigger elections law passed by the Missouri legislature this year and then signed by Gov. Mike Parson.

The changes were not yet in effect for the August primary elections, which means some IDs that were considered valid during the August primary may not be acceptedfor the Nov. 8 election — including university IDs and IDs that expired before last year's general election.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said requiring photo ID will make it harder for people to commit voter impersonation. Research has shown that voter fraud in elections is rare.

“We think it makes people feel more confident in the results,” he said.

The League of Women Voters of Missouri and the Missouri chapter of the NAACP sued the Secretary of State and the state of Missouri to block the law. A Cole County circuit judge dismissed the case.

Marilyn McLeod, president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri, said the law creates new hurdles for voters.

“Many people will not be able to vote,” said McLeod. “For example, if you are a student, like a university student, you have a university ID and you've been able to use it in the past — now you won't be able to.”

Anne Calvert, president of the League of Women Voters Kansas City, worries about the law’s effect on voter turnout.

“We just are worried that there are some things that will discourage voters and we don't think it's necessary,” she said.

Restrictions on voter outreach

The law also implemented restrictions that impact how civic groups engage with voters.

It requires that any person who helps with more than 10 voter registration applications be a registered voter and register with the state by submitting a form. It also prohibits paying people for engaging in voter registration activities.

The law also prohibits “soliciting” a voter to receive an absentee voter application. Anyone in violation of these provisions could face criminal penalties, according to the law. That could include losing the right to vote for life.

The League of Women Voters of Missouri and the Missouri NAACP filed a separate lawsuit against the state challenging those provisions. A court has yet to rule on that case.

McLeod said those parts of the law have made her organization’s usual election efforts, like hosting voter registration drives, more complicated.

“It has an impact on the work that we do for the public,” she said. “And so it's a sad thing, because how many people could we have shared that information with and made voting easier for them?”

Understanding the types of IDs accepted

Accepted forms of ID in Missouri must not be expired, must be government-issued and must have a photo.

Acceptable forms include:

  • A non-expired Missouri license
  • A non-expired U.S. passport
  • A non-expired military ID 

If your ID expired before the November 2020 election, it is no longer valid for this general election on Nov. 8. If your ID expired or will expire after November 3rd, 2020, it is still valid.

How you can vote now

Missouri allows for two weeks of early voting before the general election without an excuse. Until Nov. 7, registered voters with a valid photo ID can cast their ballots at their local election board.

Kansas City residents can vote early at these locations:

Open Oct. 25 - Nov. 7

KCEB Training Center at Union Station

  • 30 W Pershing Rd, Lower Level B, Suite 610, Kansas City, MO 64108
  • Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon-Fri)
  • Open Saturday Nov. 5, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Open Monday Nov. 7, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Open Oct. 25 - Nov. 5

United Believers Community Church

  • 5600 E 112th Ter, Kansas City, MO 64134
  • Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon-Fri)
  • Open Saturday Nov. 5, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Whole Person

  • 3710 Main St, Kansas City, Mo 64111
  • Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon-Fri)
  • Open Saturday Nov. 5, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Jackson County, Missouri

Open Oct. 29 - Nov. 7

Absentee Voting Office

  • 110 N Liberty St, Independence, MO 64050
  • Open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon-Fri) and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Sat)

On Election Day

Voters can find their Election Day polling place by entering their home address on the Voter Outreach Center page on the Missouri Secretary of State's website.

What you can do if you don’t have a valid photo ID

Registered voters who do not have a valid photo ID can still cast their vote through a provisional ballot.

Those ballots are kept separate from regular ballots. Once the polls are closed, local election officials will verify the voter’s identity and determine if they are registered and eligible to vote to determine whether the provisional ballots will count.

The provisional ballot will count if the voter returns to the election authority with a valid photo ID or if their signature on the ballot matches a signature on file.

Ashcroft said voters who cast a provisional ballot can call their state or local election official to see if their ballot was counted.

If registered voters do not have a valid photo ID, they cannot participate in early voting. Ashcroft said they will have to wait until Election Day to vote a provisional ballot.

“For the no-excuse, in-person absentee voting, you have to show that government-issued photo ID,” Ashcroft said. “If you don't have it, you can still just go on Election Day and vote in person.”

Corrected: November 7, 2022 at 4:23 PM CST
A previous version of this story had the incorrect expiration date for IDs that are not valid in the upcoming election. IDs cannot be used to vote if they expired on or before the last general election on November 3rd, 2020 — however, expired IDs can be used to vote if they were valid until that date.
As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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