“Highlights with Hegeman” for the Week of Dec. 6: Improving a Fundamental Right and Privilege

Among the things that sets this country apart from others is allowing people to vote for their leaders. Ever since the pandemic started last year, we have learned this right can be fragile and needs to be protected at all costs. Since the spring of last year, we have had several elections and have seen a number of approaches to letting people vote. Now that we have had a chance to see how varying methods of voting can and cannot work, I believe it is time to take what we know and put it to the best practice.

This is why I have pre-filed Senate Bill 633, a comprehensive election integrity and reform measure. While it contains some familiar ideas, it also embraces new technology, with voter safety in mind. We must continue to make voting as simple as possible, but also with fairness, safety and integrity.

My proposal would allow a local election official to oversee ballot-counting machines and ensure these machines are not connected to a network that could include anybody. At the same time, SB 633 would reinforce paper ballots as the official tabulation for an election, define “absentee ballot” and allow no-excuse absentee voting. This would allow more people to vote early. This bill also seeks to strengthen absentee voting rules for those who cannot vote in-person because of illness or other incapacity. In addition, the mail-in voting rules that were used last year due to the pandemic would be repealed.

Senate Bill 633 would also repeal the provisions allowing people to vote by signing a statement and providing a non-photo form of identification, and repeal provisions related to the execution of provisional ballots specific to the same person. Any person who does not present a form of photo identification may cast a regular ballot, as long as the ballot is put in a verification envelope that has a verification affidavit attached to the front. The voter would then fill out the affidavit. After completing the ballot and affidavit, the voter would put the envelope into a verification ballot box.

Election integrity is important to me. With what I believe to be relatively small changes, we can make our elections more secure, which should install confidence that everybody’s vote matters, because it does.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.