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Good-Government Groups Say MO Needs Democracy Reform


Friday, January 29, 2021   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Good-government groups in Missouri say that a major democracy reform package, HR1 - or the For the People Act - would bring the state's voting laws up to speed with the rest of the nation.

Denise Lieberman - the general counsel of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition - noted that Missouri is one of a handful of states still requiring an excuse to vote absentee, and it's one of only three states that requires ballot envelopes to be notarized.

She said HR1 would modernize Missouri's voting laws - restoring the vote to people on parole or probation, banning purging voters for simply not voting and implementing automatic voter registration, among other measures.

"About 30% of people who did not vote in 2020 cited not being registered or not having the registration updated as the reason," said Lieberman.

And Lieberman noted that Black, Brown and indigenous eligible voters are more likely to be unregistered than Caucasian people.

Lieberman pointed to Georgia in 2020 as an example of the difference democracy reform can make. Since 2016, when the state implemented automatic voter registration at Departments of Driver Services, more than 5 million new voters registered that way.

"The margin of victory in the presidential race in Georgia was less than 12,000 votes," said Lieberman. "What we know is that modernizing voter registration helps level the playing field to ensure that all voices can be heard."

Lieberman said it's going to take some work to restore people's trust in democracy.

"Between the spate of disinformation, the lies about the election results, the election challenges, the attacks on our Capitol, that all eroded trust in our democratic process," said Lieberman. "The only way out of that is to advance affirmative voting reforms."

She urged Missourians to contact their representatives to express support for the legislation. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush - D-St. Louis - and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver - D-Kansas City - are co-sponsors of HR1 in the House.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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