The State of Missouri must provide voter registration services to residents who update their driver’s license or state ID address online with the state’s Department of Revenue.
The state accepted this mandate as part of the settlement agreement on alawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Missouri and the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Chapters of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The suit alleged that Missouri was violating the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law designed to aid voter registration.
The settlement was hailed as a victory for voter engagement in Missouri as the 2020 elections approach.
“People of color and low-income individuals are less likely to own homes or have dependable transportation, which results in more interaction with DOR,” said Keith Robinson, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s St. Louis Chapter.
“The fixes the state agreed to undergo will be critical to ensure that Missouri does not continue to shut the doors to our democracy on individuals whose voices are already underrepresented and too often unheard.”
Under the agreement, Missouri will provide registration services to residents who visit the Department of Revenue’s online change-of-address site. Customers who use the agency’s online change-of-address system to update the address associated with their license or identification card will be automatically redirected to the Secretary of State’s online voter registration system.
Also, information entered on the Department of Revenue’s webpage will be pre-populated on the Secretary of State site, allowing residents to more easily register or update their voter registration to reflect their new address.
The agreement further provides for improvements to streamline license and identification card transactions conducted in motor vehicles offices.
To ensure the effective implementation of the settlement agreement, the Department of Revenue will designate a National Voter Registration Act Coordinator, conduct internal audits of the new procedures established under the agreement, and publish data to allow for oversight of the agreement.
“Each year, one of the major causes of disenfranchisement in the state results from when Missouri voters appear at the polls and find out that they are not registered at their current address,” said Evelyn Maddox, president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri. “These improvements to the Department of Revenue’s voter registration practices will help reduce the number of qualified voters being shut out of the political process.”
The plaintiffs were represented in their suit against Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft by a team of lawyers from Demos, Advancement Project National Office, Covington & Burling LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Missouri.
“With this agreement, Missouri will reduce barriers to the fundamental right to vote,” said Anthony Rothert, legal director of ACLU of Missouri. “We hope this agreement represents a shift in our state government’s priorities, so they focus on making it easier to vote, not harder.”