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Parson approves mail-in voting

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Gov. Mike Parson yesterday signed legislation expanding mail-in voting rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 631, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, allows Missouri voters to choose COVID-19 as a reason to request an absentee ballot. Missouri is among roughly a third of states that require an approved excuse, such as illness or traveling on Election Day, to vote by mail, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

“Any Missourian affected by COVID-19 should still be able to vote, including those who are sick or considered at-risk," Parson said in a news release, noting the bill "provides Missourians with a safe and secure way to vote while still safeguarding our elections and ballot process.”

Under SB 631, mail-in absentee ballots will be granted to people who request them. They will be required to submit a notarized statement in an effort to prevent voter fraud, according to the release.

Residents who have contracted or are at risk of contracting the coronavirus can cast absentee ballots without notarization.

The provisions expire Dec. 31, according to the release.

“I fully agree with President [Donald] Trump’s position and do not support any plan to expand mass mail-in voting without a reason,” Parson said in the release. “This only enables voter fraud and ballot harvesting, and I am proud to sign this bill to stop that process from happening in our state.”

Parson previously declined to sign an executive order that would have expanded vote-by-mail options, citing his opinion that Democrats are using the coronavirus to push through an agenda.

Missouri House of Representatives Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, called the governor’s statement “ludicrous" in a May 4 SBJ article.

“This is not a partisan conversation and I hate that folks are saying that it is,” she told SBJ. “People are scared, but people also have the right to vote.”

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