HB 334 – Pertaining to Voting
Jan 10, 2021
“Modifies several provisions relating elections” You can follow the journe of HB 334 here. You can download a PDF of the bill here. This bill was introduced by Representative John Simmons. The bill makes changes to RSMO 115.427.
Editor’s Note: For full disclosure, in 2018 I appeared on the Ballot with John Simmons.
What is RSMO 115.427?
Effective June 1st, 2017, this particular statute was responsible for voter ID requirements. It also covered the requirements for a provisional ballot. A section of the law was struck down as unconstitutional in Priorities USA v. State, 591 S.W.3d 448. The Affidavit requirement section, specifically, violated the Missouri Constitution.
What does HB 334 do?
The first thing it does is add a reference to RSMO 115.257 which went into effect on January 1st, 2018. This deals with the procedures for absentee voting. This would seem to give people voting absentee the ability to vote with a provisional ballot if they don’t have the proper ID. However, it looks to force election authorities to require voter ID for absentee ballots that are cast in-person.
I say that because of Lines 21 through 23 of the bill. I added emphasis to specific words:
21 2. (1) An individual who appears at a polling place without a form of personalHB 334 – John Simmons
22 identification described in subsection 1 of this section and who is otherwise qualified to vote at
23 that polling place
The first modification to the bill calls out election authorities as being different than polling places. Line 21 states that provisional ballots are given out at polling places, not election authorities.
Most of section 2 has been eliminated in HB 334. This language detailed how a person could use a non-approved voter ID along with a sworn statement (under penalty of perjury) that they are who they say they are. They also have to show a different type of identification that did not necessarily include a photo ID.
This also gave the election authority at the polling place the authority to take a photo to attach to the person’s voting file. (Presumably for future identification purposes.)
The sworn affidavit portion (Section 2, subsection 3) was thrown out in the previous court case – you no longer had to sign an affidavit in order to use an alternative voting ID (like the Voter ID card sent out by local election authorities.)
Section 3 was also thrown out – it included the form that was required for casting a provisional ballot.
Section 5 was removed entirely, which required the Secretary of State to provide advance notice of the ID requirements to the general public. It required advertisements, public service announcements, and posting the information on the state website.
Subsection 3 of Section 6 has been removed, which provided a funding apparatus for notifying the public about the changes.
What’s New in HB 334?
HB 334 adds a few new requirements, one of which is dangerous and could lead to identity theft. Here’s the breakdown.
Section 2, Subsection 2 and 3
Anyone who wants a ballot must fill out an affidavit first, and their ballot will be marked separately so as to distinguish it from other ballots. Voters must complete the envelope for their ballot, which will then be used to determine if they are eligible for a provisional ballot.
This is the section that is dangerous and can lead to identity theft. The ballot envelope must have a space on it for the voter’s name, address, date of birth, and last four digits of their social security number. They then have to sign the form on the envelope. (The form is formatted a bit differently, but covers most of the voter ID requirements.) It also requires the signature of an election official, but the definition for that position is not included.
Address. Partial SSN. Signature. Address. Date of Birth. Name. All on an envelope that anyone might be able to see or take a photo of.
Just to vote.
Section 6 er, 5
Section 5 was removed, so section 6 became section 5. This pertains mostly to getting a free ID from the state in order to vote. The phrase “in order to vote” was replaced with “for voting” several times.
One positive change in this section is that you no longer have to sign an affidavit stating that you have no other voter ID in order to get this ID. However, one HUGE red flag for this legislation: In the current law, if the house doesn’t appropriate enough funding for the ID program, then the photo ID requirement portion of the law is unenforceable. In HB 334, that section has been removed. So the house can “defund” the program, and still require photo ID’s.
Mr. Simmons is trying to reinstate the “Show it to Vote” requirements by striking out the portions of the law that were declared unconstitutional, and allowing the State to defund programs designed to help poor non-drivers vote.
Do not support this bill.
This is not the first time Mr. Simmons has tried to make it more difficult for someone to vote. During the regular session of 2020, he filed HJR 109, an attempt to change the Missouri Constitution to require government issued photo ID.
Luckily, Mr. Simmons is not a very accomplished legislator. Of the 12 bills and resolutions that he has filed, only 1 passed the house, and it died in the Senate. (Unfortunately, that one bill was very similar to this one, but it also covered filing requirements for candidates.)
At no time has Mr. Simmons provided any information as to how voter data was to be protected before, during, and after the provisional ballots were counted.
I am not a legal expert – this is a common-man’s reading of the legislation. If there are mistakes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My contact information is readily available. None of this should be treated as legal advice, as I am not a lawyer.