New Missouri photo ID law doesn’t affect Aug. 2 election. What the changes mean for voters

·6 min read

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a new law that will make some major changes to the voting process in Missouri starting Aug. 28. These changes will not impact the upcoming Aug. 2 primary election.

The new law will require voters who vote without a photo ID to use a provisional ballot. Right now, Missouri voters need to show a form of ID, but it doesn’t need to be a photo ID. The law will prohibit touch screen voting machines after 2024 and will allow the Missouri secretary of state to audit voter rolls. It also gets rid of presidential primaries and replaces them with caucuses. And it gives voters two weeks to vote absentee with no excuse before each election.

Again, these changes will not impact the upcoming Aug. 2 primary election, but the law will be in effect come the Nov. 8 general election.

Here’s a breakdown of what voters should know for both the August and November elections.

What you need to know for August 2 primary election.

When do I need to register?

Voter registration is still open in Missouri until 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 6. You can register to vote here. If you recently moved and need to update your address, you can fill out this form here.

How do I find my polling place

Jackson County Election Board director Tammy Brown said voters should also be mindful of whether their polling place has changed at all. State legislators passed the new congressional maps in May. The state’s house of representatives and state senate maps were passed in January and March, respectively.

“So people just need to know that their districts have changed,” Brown said. “We just encourage them to to look at the voter ID card we’re going to send out next week, and then our poll notification cards to make sure that they’re not frustrated and they go to polls that they’ve always gone to for the last 10 years, and it’s not their poll anymore.”

For voters in Jackson County but outside of Kansas City, you can check for your polling place by using this voter information look-up tool. Kansas City residents can check for their polling place here, by clicking on the menu tap titled “Where do I vote?”

What kind of ID will work at the polls?

There are a number of options that do count as voter ID, right now. Photo identification like a state driver’s license, a passport or a military ID are all valid options. Voters can also use a school ID from a Missouri college, a utility bill or a bank statement. Other government issued documents that show your name and address can work as well. To see a full list of valid voter identification options, check here.

What if I don’t have an ID to show at the polls?

People who don’t have any version of an ID, like the ones mentioned above, will be asked to fill out a provisional ballot. Using a provisional ballot is kind of like putting your vote on stand-by. The vote will not count unless you come back with a photo identification or if your signature matches the signature on your voter registration.

Can I vote absentee?

Yes, but only if you qualify for an absentee ballot. Voters can still vote absentee for up to six weeks before the election. The easiest way to vote absentee in Jackson County, is in person. Voters can visit 110 N. Liberty, Independence, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Voters must request an absentee vote in Jackson County by July 20.

Absentee voters do need to have a reason for why they are voting absentee. To see a full list of reasons that are accepted in Jackson County, visit here. Voters can also vote absentee by mail, but they will need to request that an absentee ballot be sent to their home and have that ballot notarized before they mail it back to the election board.

Kansas City’s election board also has an absentee voter application, which is due on July 20 for the Aug. 2 election. Voters can also skip the application and vote absentee in-person at Union Station in Suite 610 on Lower Level B. Kansas City voters can vote absentee by mail as well. Once they submit their application and address, the ballot will be mailed to them six weeks before the election. Mailed ballots must be notarized.

The last day to vote absentee in-person is 5:00 p.m. the Monday before Election Day.

How will all this change for the November 8 general election?

Voters will need a photo ID

Once the new law goes into effect, voters will need a government-issued, photo ID in order to vote in Missouri. State driver’s license, a passport or a military ID are all valid options. All other forms of identification, including school IDs, utility bills or even bank statements will not be accepted anymore.

People who don’t bring the correct form of identification to the polls in November will be asked to fill out a provisional ballot and will have an opportunity to bring a photo ID back to the polls to make sure their vote is counted.

Brown said the Jackson County Election Board doesn’t receive many provisional ballots. Brown said she recalls less than 5 provisional ballots in the last election. When they do get provisional ballots, it’s about a 50% chance that the vote is not counted because voters’ identity wasn’t verified in time, according to Brown.

Prohibit touch screen voting machines after 2024

The new law will prohibit touch screen voting machines in 2024. This change is not likely to change the voter experience in Jackson County and Kansas City, according to Brown. Both election boards use paper ballots that are then counted by a vote tabulator. Visually impaired voters can use a digital machine to mark their ballots and then receive a printed copy that will then be counted by the vote tabulator.

Brown said most jurisdictions in the state don’t use the full touch screen machines that are mentioned in the new law. Therefore this restriction won’t impact many jurisdictions, including Kansas City and Jackson County voters.

No excuse, absentee voting

Starting with the November election, any voter will be able to vote absentee two weeks before the election, without needing a reason to qualify.

Previously, absentee voters needed to qualify to vote absentee, and there was a six week window before the election to vote absentee. Those who do qualify with a valid reason will still have that same six week window to cast their absentee ballots before the November election.

But then with this new law, the last two weeks of in-person absentee voting before the election will open up to any voter without needing a qualifying reason.

No more presidential primaries

The new law will replace presidential primaries with political caucuses. Caucuses are hosted entirely by political parties. The last time the state held a caucus instead of a presidential primary was in 2012.

“We didn’t have a presidential preference primary, and the parties did caucus,” Brown said of the 2012 caucus. “That is run totally by the parties. Each jurisdiction, their county committees come together, and they hold a caucus and select their delegates for President.”

The next presidential election will be in 2024.

The Star’s Kacen Bayless contributed reporting.

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