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Parson signs bill expanding voting methods during coronavirus into law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Any registered voter will be able to request a mail-in ballot for the 2020 elections under legislation signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson Thursday.

SB 631, championed by Sen. Dan Hegeman during the curtailed legislative session, allows for individuals who contracted COVID-19 or are considered to be at-risk for coronavirus to vote absentee without notarization in 2020. Additionally, voters can request a mail-in ballot for 2020 elections from the local election authority; this will need to be notarized and returned via mail no later than the closing of polls on election day. 

“Any Missourian affected by COVID-19 should still be able to vote, including those who are sick or considered at-risk,” Parson said in a statement. “I applaud Sen. Dan Hegeman, Rep. Dan Shaul, and the rest of the legislature for taking this important step, which provides Missourians with a safe and secure way to vote while still safeguarding our elections and ballot process.” 

Aside from the 2020 elections, the legislation allows for state employees not subjected to the Merit System or Uniform Classification and Pay System to run for office — the underlying bill

It also gives the secretary of state greater authority, including subpoena power, when investigating alleged election offenses. 

“I want to thank the Governor for signing SB 631,” Hegeman said in a statement to The Missouri Times. “This is a reasonable and measured approach to allow folks to vote by mail during the pandemic if they so choose, with the appropriate safeguards in place to protect the integrity of our elections.”

Parson said the bill has safeguards in place to prevent voter fraud and protect the “election process.” 

“I fully agree with President Trump’s position and do not support any plan to expand mass mail-in voting without a reason,” the governor said. “This only enables voter fraud and ballot harvesting, and I am proud to sign this bill to stop that process from happening in our state.” 

“We are not against voting by mail for people who have a reason. Our current law allows for that, and this bill allows for that,” Parson said. “What we are against, and what President Trump is against, is voting absentee without a reason and without a signature verification. That is a non-secure way to handle voting absentee, as is ballot harvesting. Signing SB 631 ensures this will not happen in the state of Missouri.” 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.