As DOJ vows to protect voting rights, Missouri Secretary of State supports Texas bill in federal lawsuit

Missouri

ST. LOUIS–Missouri’s Secretary of State is adding his office’s voice of support to the state of Texas, which is being sued by the federal government over Texas Senate Bill 1, a law passed last fall and signed into law that explicitly rolls back ways Democratic counties have made it easier for people to vote, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The law bans drop boxes for mail ballots — a practice that has been used for years in other states with no major problems — and prohibits the mailing of absentee voting applications and ballots to all eligible voters. The bill also makes it a felony for any election official who sends out unsolicited applications or ballots to vote-by-mail.

The GOP bill also bans drive-thru voting for most voters and controls the times at which county governments can keep polling places open. That would put a stop to 24-hour voting locations. Republicans argue that these procedures were used during the ongoing but once-in-a-century pandemic and shouldn’t be regular features of voting in the state. Democrats and voting rights groups say those measures simply make it easier for people to cast ballots and especially helped working class, young and ill voters access the polls.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently announced that his office had filed an amicus brief, siding with Texas in the case.

“The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that states have a compelling interest in assuring the integrity of elections and must be allowed to combat potential fraud and corruption in the electoral process while protecting the right of every eligible citizen to participate,” the brief said. “Preventing vote fraud must be balanced against the desire to provide every eligible citizen access to the ballot box. States may enact laws regulating the administration of elections, even if these laws may impose some burden on voters,” it continued.

“While perhaps not as widespread as in the past, regrettably the types of vote fraud practiced
by Boss Tweed and the Pendergast Machine are still a very real and troubling feature of our
nation’s electoral landscape. Requiring a person to provide reliable identification to confirm he or
she is, in fact, the eligible voter listed on the roll, is a commonsense safeguard against vote fraud
schemes that disenfranchise lawful voters and undermine public confidence in elections results.”

“The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the fundamental right to vote for all Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a news release announcing the federal suit in November. “Laws that impair eligible citizens’ access to the ballot box have no place in our democracy. Texas Senate Bill 1’s restrictions on voter assistance at the polls and on which absentee ballots cast by eligible voters can be accepted by election officials are unlawful and indefensible.”

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