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Early Voting: Will Missouri Lawmakers Make It Easier For People To Cast Ballots?

Categories: Politics

Vote sign.jpeg
via
As a controversial GOP-backed proposal to require photo identification for elections swiftly makes its way through the legislature, another voting bill is starting to get some attention that could significantly impact how people cast ballots in the future.

The Democratic legislation in question is an initiative to create an early voting period in Missouri, with backers arguing that it would make it much easier for people to vote -- and help reduce the long lines on Election Day that disenfranchise people, often in poor, urban communities.

"I waited in line for five hours to vote," State Senator Gina Walsh, one of the proponents of the bill, tells Daily RFT. "The waits were just incredible."

Walsh says it's commonsense, but does the bill actually have a chance of becoming law?

Much of the debate around election legislation so far this session has focused on the partisan fight on photo ID, with opponents arguing it would suppress rightful voters across the state -- while Republican backers say it is a simple requirement that would help prevent fraud.

There are now two separate but virtually identical State Senate bills, SB 145 and SB 94, that would establish an "advance voting period" for future elections.

The proposal is modeled after early voting systems that exist in states across the country -- and proponents say this kind of setup makes Election Day much smoother and gives voters who work full-time more opportunities to cast their ballots.

Gina Walsh in Jefferson City.jpeg
via Facebook
Gina Walsh in Jefferson City

"Last time, it rained -- and there were people standing outside, old people, young people, waiting for hours," says Walsh, a Democrat who represents parts of north St. Louis County and formerly served as a House representative. "People have to work, but they're showing that they're not making a choice between working and voting. They want to vote and exercise their rights."

But after many hours, some simply don't have a choice, she says.

"They say, 'I have to go to work,'" says Walsh, who has proposed the idea alongside State Senator Jolie Justus. "I just think we should be making it easier to vote."

As written, the bill would allow voters to cast advance ballots at central and satellite locations during a period that begins the third Wednesday prior to Election Day, anytime between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and until 12 p.m. on Saturdays.

The proposal has come up numerous times in the past, but has faced a range of opposition and has gotten bogged down in the legislative process.

Continue for more of our interview with Gina Walsh and for the full draft bill.


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9 comments
Matt Dresner
Matt Dresner

Yes. I would truly like to see an ATM like machine set up at City Hall, and you could vote there.

rhazlett
rhazlett

In the news: The Ohio poll worker is on record voting MULTIPLE TIMES....for OBAMA. Latest count: 6 votes. Her firends and counterparts did too, she says.

There are fraud stories all over Missouri, in registration AND voting. One was a DEMOCRAT primary here in KC where 50 Somalis were shipped in to vote ILLEGALLY (no IDs) and the guy they voted for won by a few votes. Google this - there are countless hits on fraud.

Sure - open up voting a day or two. This weeks or months crap has to stop though. But FIRST, fix the known problems, and there are many. Franken is a US Senator because a county had more votes cast than people registered. Check Grigoire in Washington. Check Chicago - you think dead voters have ID?

FIX the problems!

James Madison
James Madison

Absentee has been around for a long, long time. Voter fraud was committed in Ohio by absentee. A woman made news recently by voting for her family members, as well as voting twice as herself - once absentee then walked up on election day. We should as a nation spend one day to decide our future. Why allow leaks from how the voting is going corrupt the results? Single day of voting, except for those truly unable to be at their polling place on Election Day. And making sure the person is eligible to vote is critical to a fair election.

Christopher Harrison
Christopher Harrison

Yes, absolutely. Single day voting is no longer feasible given our population.

Sarah Wess Potter
Sarah Wess Potter

Yes! It was so nice living in IL to early vote with NO LINES! Now, in Missouri, you have to vote absentee or wait in long lines on Election Day.

Peggy Keller
Peggy Keller

Yes. It is almost impossible to commit voter fraud with early voting. You vote absentee and send in your ballot which is verified and checked against the registration and signatures and your name is crossed off all lists that go out as having already voted. The states that currently do this have a database that is accessible via computer that shows if someone has voted- anywhere in the state- via absentee balloting.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

I came from St Louis, where I rarely voted thanks to having to work whenever there was a vote.  When I came to South Florida, it was shocking that I could vote a week or so before the actual date.  At first I was worried that maybe it was some sort of trick.  Having been immersed in early voting now for many years, I would never have it any other way.  It makes things so much easier, no longer must I worry that I cannot get back to work since I do not have to vote on my day off.  

In summation, I HIGHLY recommend this legislation pass.

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