Good news, everyone! The Missouri GOP is trying to expand early voting in the state! Oh, did we say good news? We mean that Republicans are trying to expand early voting in Missouri, “BUT…”
After Martin Luther King Jr. Day, citizens gathered signatures to place an initiative on the ballot that would extend early voting by six weeks. The measure, if adopted, would include weekend hours and multiple voting locations. Volunteers collected over 300,000 signatures in May and delivered the petition to Missouri’s Secretary of State, who is in the process of verifying the signatures and determining whether or not to place the citizen-led initiative on the ballot.
However, Republicans have a problem with this — and no, it’s not that a Republican consultant admitted the plan would be a “major liability for Republicans,” possibly because of the perception that early voting favors Democrats — It’s that, as MO Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said, the process could be “highly manipulated” by Democrats, and is too expensive.
On April 1, Republicans countered with their own version of the popular measure, one that will be less damaging to their party. The Republican plan extends early voting by only six days. Of course, weekends have been stripped from the measure in the Republican plan, and early voting would be available only in local election offices. The Republican version also prohibits same-day voter registration.
“The testimony in the Legislature in favor of the sham early voting bill was actually testimony against early voting,” says Lara Granich, the director of Missouri Jobs With Justice. “That makes the real motivation behind it clear. They want it to be more difficult for folks to vote.”
Buy why six days? Why the limitations? State Rep. Paul Curtman (R) told the Missourian that six weeks of early voting gives people too much time to commit voter fraud. Republican state Senator Brian Nieves agreed with Curtman. According to Nieves, this “invites and begs” voter fraud. Neither explained exactly how the act of making it easier for people to vote in any way increases the risk of voter fraud.
Possibly, both the citizen-led initiative and the Republican sham will be on the ballot in November.
Voter fraud in North Carolina is rare. There have only been 15 documented cases in this century. If we include the two cases involving campaign officials and five involving election officials, this makes 22 total — a far cry from the “widespread” voter fraud Thom Tillis claims the state has faced recently.