Senator Ed Emery’s Legislative Report for May 5, 2017

Emery - Column Banner - 011013

Election Integrity

 “Voting is a right best exercised by people who have taken time to learn about the issues.”   Tony Snow

For more than 10 years, Missourians have debated the issue of whether or not providing a form of photo identification should be necessary prior to casting ballots in an election. Previous legislative attempts and ballot initiatives have been unsuccessful due either to the stroke of a veto pen or an opinion of the Supreme Court.

However, on Nov. 8, 2016, Missourians clearly expressed their collective desire to change the public policy of our state by adopting a requirement that voters present photo identification prior to having access to the ballot box. Last November, the passing of Constitutional Amendment 6 by a nearly two-thirds majority vote cleared the obstacles Missourians have been trying to hurdle for over a decade. Missourians will now enjoy the same level of voter integrity as over thirty other states.  The primary objective of requiring photo ID is to protect every single vote by ensuring your vote cannot be cancelled by one cast illegally. Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft, is now charged with implementing this law which will take effect June 1, 2017.

Secretary Ashcroft’s “Show-it 2 Vote” campaign has been launched to advise Missourians on the new photo identification requirements needed prior to voting.  For Missourians who do not currently have the required photo identification, the website provides information on how the document can be obtained at no cost.

A government issued photo identification that is acceptable can be a drivers license, non-drivers license, passport, or military identification.  If you are unable to provide the election officials with one of these documents, there are two alternative measures that can be taken to ensure your vote counts.  First, you can sign a statement confirming that you do not possess one of the required photo identification documents and you will be able to cast your ballot by allowing the election official to witness one of the following documents:

  • Your voter registration card;
  • An identification card issued by a Missouri university, college, vocational or technical school;
  • A utility bill in your name;
  • A bank statement in your name;
  • Your paycheck; or
  • Other government documents showing your name and address.

Second, if you are not able to provide one of the above documents, a “provisional ballot” can be cast. The provisional ballot will be valid if your signature matches the signature in the voter registry held by the local election office or if you return to the polling station prior to its closing and present one of the listed acceptable documents for verification by the election officials.  Everyone is encouraged to visit Secretary Ashcroft’s Show-it 2 Vote website and learn information regarding this process. There may also be meetings scheduled throughout the state to answer voter questions.

Of course, the first step in exercising your right to vote is that you must be registered to vote. If you are not registered, a photo ID will not allow you to vote. If you are not registered to vote and would like to register, please contact your county officials or you may contact this office and we can help you.

Finally, widespread torrential rains made this a week to remember for many across the Show-Me State. The rains drenched residents and created havoc on our roads, bridges, and in our neighborhoods. Some areas saw as much as twelve inches of rain over the past week. Heroic emergency crews fought rain, wind, cold, and darkness to perform multiple rescues. Volunteers spent hours filling sandbags for neighbors. Community members came together and served each other with nothing expected in return. Our thanks to each dedicated emergency responder; many who are still working around-the-clock to save our property and keep us safe.

The devastating flood waters are beginning to recede, but we are left with the aftermath, and we won’t know the complete cost of the damage for weeks or even months. Some evacuees still cannot get back to their homes, let alone into their homes. Please pray for the families who are impacted as well as the volunteers and emergency personnel.

Many roads remain blocked by high water or water-damage. If you must travel, be aware of the flood susceptible areas that might still contain water, and be cautious when driving or walking in flooded areas. For information on flooded or closed roads, visit MODOT also has a 24-hour call line that contains information on road conditions – 1-888-275-6636 or outside of Missouri 573-751-2551 as well as an interactive Traveler’s Map. Watch for neighbors who need your help, and pray for our state and other states that are affected.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.