National Voter Registration Day

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 by Jeremiah Barker

National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, September 26. In Missouri, according to the events listed on this unofficial holiday’s website, there are events in Kansas City, Cape Girardeau and near Lexington.

The general idea is to provide a national push for voter registration. Voting in the United States is a civic duty and a constitutional right. The legitimacy of our democratic process depends on voters.

In Boone County, for the general election last November, there were 108,578 registered voters, and only 85,012 ballots were cast. 21.7% of registered voters did not vote, which was, admittedly, better than the Missouri’s voter turnout.

Out of 422,3787 registered Missourians, only 66.56% cast their votes. According to the United States Election Project, the voter turnout nationally was 60.2%, which, to be fair, is the third highest since 1972. But, higher voter turnout ensures our elected officials do, indeed, represent us.

Missourians recently voted to amend the Missouri Constitution to require identification in order to vote. Effective June 1, 2017, this voter ID law outlines identification requirements for voting in Missouri.

Section 1 on the resolution (HB 1631) is as follows:

1. Persons seeking to vote in a public election shall establish their identity and eligibility to vote at the polling place by presenting a form of personal identification to election officials. No form of personal identification other than the forms listed in this section shall be accepted to establish a voter’s qualifications to vote.  Forms of personal identification that satisfy the requirements of this section are any one of the following:

(1)  Nonexpired Missouri driver’s license;

(2)  Nonexpired or nonexpiring Missouri nondriver’s license;

(3)  A document that satisfies all of the following requirements:

(a)  The document contains the name of the individual to whom the document was issued, and the name substantially conforms to the most recent signature in the individual’s voter registration record;

(b)  The document shows a photograph of the individual;

(c)  The document includes an expiration date, and the document is not expired, or, if expired, the document expired after the date of the most recent general election; and

(d)  The document was issued by the United States or the state of Missouri; or

(4)  Any identification containing a photograph of the individual which is issued by the Missouri National Guard, the United States Armed Forces, or the United States Department of Veteran Affairs to a member or former member of the Missouri National Guard or the United States Armed Forces and that is not expired or does not have an expiration date.

We recommend reading the law in full. The Secretary of State John Ashcroft’s website for voter identification provides multiple resources for understanding this law, such as a flowchart and a form for requesting help/information. But here’s the gist:

First, in order to vote, you have to be registered to vote. (You can pick up voter registration cards at the library, fill out the card online or fill out the card in person at the Boone County Clerk’s office.) To register, you have to be 17 ½ (18 to vote), a MO resident and a U.S. citizen. (There are limitations for convicted felons and the incarcerated.)

Second, you’re going to need identification, typically a driver’s or non-driver’s license. In the new law, there are provisions for obtaining a free nondriver’s license for the purposes of voting, but to get one of these, you need (1) your birth certificate or passport, (2) your social security number (physical card not required) and (3) proof of MO residential address. If you have these, you can go to a Missouri License Office to receive government-issued identification.

Third, if you don’t have the required documentation to obtain identification, please contact the Secretary of State’s Office toll-free at (866) 868-3245 or by email at showit2vote@sos.mo.gov. Another provision in the law states that, for the purposes of voting, the State will help you obtain, free of charge, a birth certificate. If you were born outside of Missouri, this complicates your getting a free birth certificate.

But if you are registered to vote, you can vote. Even though this law creates some hurdles for some to exercise their constitutional right to vote, there is assistance available, so don’t hesitate to contact the Secretary of State’s Office if you have questions.

Note: this information is general. This brief article does not cover every circumstance, so again, for more information, contact the Secretary of State’s office at the number and email given above or the following local offices listed below.

Boone County Clerk’s Office
801 E. Walnut, Rm 236
Columbia, MO 65201-7731
(573) 886-4375

Missouri License Offices:
Columbia License Office
403 Vandiver Dr B
(573) 474-4700

Columbia South License Office
1101 Grindstone Pkwy #103
(573) 442-2134

You can also get assistance getting registered to vote at the Columbia Public Library on September 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County will help you get registered and answer your questions about voting

Voting rights in the United States, as in all countries, unfortunately has a contentious and often violent history. If you want to learn more about this essential constitutional right, I recommend the following:

Give us the Ballot book cover
“Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” by Ari Berman
The Fight to Vote book cover
“The Fight to Vote” by Michael Waldman
Century of Struggle book cover
“Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States” by Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick
The Right to Vote book cover
“The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States” by Alexander Keyssar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy National Voter Registration Day!

 

Image credit: Nick Youngson, Vote via Blue Diamond Gallery (license

Author: Jeremiah Barker

If I threw a literary party, I'd invite George Saunders, Maggie Nelson, and Hanya Yanagihara. On my nightstand I always have a dictionary and usually Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations." Favorite book this year: "The Return" by Hisham Matar.