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Senate weighs changes to purging Missouri voter rolls

by Konrad Strzalka | January 25, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.

A bill that would implement steps to purge inactive voters from the rolls evoked strong comments at a Missouri Senate hearing Monday.

The legislation would require local election authorities to canvass the registration records of all precincts in its jurisdictions every two years. Under the bill, voters who fail to respond to notices and do not engage in voter activity by the second general election after the date of the notice will have their names removed from the list of eligible voters.

Bill sponsor Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, argued it is important for election officials to ensure their voter rolls are accurate to protect the integrity of elections.

This proposed legislation comes as different states across the country debate stricter changes to the voting process.

Brattin asserted his legislation was not intended to disenfranchise voters but rather to ensure that voters are keeping their records up to date.

Three people testified in favor of the bill, while four testified in opposition.

Linda Rantz, a representative of the citizen's group Missouri Canvassers, argued the state's voter rolls contain inaccuracies, which may lead to voter fraud. She said her organization found 1,100 individual anomalies in a canvass of 5,000 Missouri homes.

Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, countered the burden of preventing fraudulent voter activity should fall upon the authorities, not the voters. Questioned by Rizzo, Rantz acknowledged she had not received any state confirmation of any fraudulent voting activity.

Speaking in opposition to the bill, Sharon Geuea Jones, representative of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, proposed local election officials use the U.S. Postal Service's National Change of Address system to verify the accuracy of a voter's address, rather than purging voters who did not respond to their mail.

Along with other opponents, Jones argued voters should be able to sit out certain elections without worrying about how it would affect their registration status.

"Our position is unless you know for sure that person is no longer eligible to vote, you should not be removing them from the voter rolls,"Jones said after the hearing.

The work of the Missouri News Network is written by Missouri School of Journalism students and editors for publication by Missouri Press Association member newspapers.

Print Headline: Senate weighs changes to purging voter rolls


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