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Voting rights lawsuit filed against Missouri, secretary of state

by Phillip Sitter | August 21, 2020 at 6:50 p.m. | Updated August 26, 2020 at 4:46 p.m.
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2017, file photo, Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft speaks in Valley Park, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Weiner preliminary injunction


A national women's advocacy organization has filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft over five election laws the organization said make it difficult or impossible for Missourians to vote.

The lawsuit by the Washington, D.C.-based American Women advocacy organization and three Missouri plaintiffs from St. Louis and Webster Groves seeks to make the following changes, according to a news release from American Women:

"Eliminate the requirement that most voters have their ballot envelopes notarized.

"Eliminate the requirement that some voters return their ballots by U.S. mail only.

"Ensure that ballots are counted even if mail service delays cause them to be delivered after the polls close on Election Day.

"Allow third parties to assist in collecting and submitting mail ballots.

"Develop and implement consistent and fair signature matching protocols, and ensure that voters receive reasonable notice and an opportunity to cure if a signature is questioned."

"With the general election less than 80 days away, we are taking urgent action to ensure that all Missouri voters can safely, securely, and easily cast their ballots by mail," according to the organization's news release.

"In light of the COVID-19 public health crisis, election officials in Missouri have already seen an (unprecedented) demand for mail ballots. Our lawsuit gets ahead of these issues for the general election and challenges both new and existing obstacles that Missourians face when they seek to vote by mail," American Women added in the release.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Cole County Circuit Court.

As the law currently stands, Missouri voters this year in specific at-risk categories for contracting or transmitting the COVID-19 disease or voters who have contracted the disease can vote via absentee ballot by mail. Those ballots would have to be notarized, unless someone is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability, or if someone is a caregiver for a person in those circumstances.

People at risk for COVID-19 or who have already contracted the coronavirus that causes it also do not need to get their ballot notarized.

Concerns about federal officials and President Donald Trump seeking to undermine the U.S. Postal Service to interfere with the results of the November election have also prompted recent calls from Missouri Democratic state lawmakers in recent days to call for Gov. Mike Parson to ask the state Legislature to count absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day, even if delivered late.


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