State sends 22K mailers to comply with judge’s order following federal law violation

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Secretary of State’s Office has mailed out more than 22,000 notices after a federal judge determined the state violated the National Voter Registration Act.

A federal judge in the Western District of Missouri found that the Missouri Department of Revenue violated the National Voter Registration Act, commonly called the “Motor Voter” law, by not providing all Missourians who changed their mailing address on driver or non-driver licenses an opportunity to also change their voter registration.

Under federal law, whenever an individual updates the address associated with their license or identification card with the state motor vehicle agency, the state must also update the individual’s voter registration unless they affirmatively request otherwise.

Around Aug. 1, 2017, the Missouri Department of Revenue revised their change of address process, effectively eliminating the step through which customers could update their address with the Secretary of State’s Office or local election authority. The lawsuit alleged that because of the policy, voters who had moved within the state have gone to the polls only to find that they were not on the rolls and cannot cast a ballot that will count.

Judge Brian Wimes issued an order on September 21, 2018, instructing the State of Missouri to take immediate steps to prevent Missourians from being denied their right to vote in this November’s election as a result of the state’s failure to comply with federal law.

“By requiring the State to immediately contact individuals who were not provided the required voter registration services when updating their address, today’s ruling will help ensure that fewer Missouri voters will be disenfranchised this November as a result of the state’s failure to comply with the NVRA,” said Davin Rosborough, staff attorney in the ACLU Voting Rights Project, following Wimes’ preliminary injunction.

The Secretary of State’s Office worked to comply with the order by mailing 22,404 notices to citizens who changed their mailing address on driver and non-driver licenses with the Department of Revenue between Aug. 1, 2017, and Sept. 26, 2018. Those individuals will instructions to check their voter registration information or register to vote and the packet includes a voter registration application.

Missourians have until October 10 to register to vote in the November 6 general election. Mail-in voter registration applications must be postmarked by Oct. 10.

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.