Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is predicting low voter turnout for Tuesday’s election.
“It’s depressing, the percentage of turnout we will see in August,” Ashcroft noted during a recent trip to Kansas City.
Is it any wonder?
Voting is getting tougher. If compelling voters to show up for a lightly publicized election on a random Tuesday in August weren’t enough of a challenge, Missouri is upping the degree of difficulty.
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The state has imposed new voter ID requirements. And in recent years, the number of polling places has declined, leaving voters frustrated and confused when they’re forced to hunt for a new location to cast their ballots.
In Kansas City, officials estimate the number of polling sites for an election like Tuesday’s has dropped by about 30 percent during the last couple of decades.
Election officials say that fewer institutions and organizations are willing to serve as polling places. Schools are understandably fearful predators or other dangerous people will gain access, so they’re increasingly reluctant to offer space.
Churches and other organizations have been turned off by aggressive electioneering and the savage nature of politics today. They want to distance themselves from partisan squabbling, and serving as a polling site simply doesn’t seem worth the hassle.
It’s a sad state of affairs.
The Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners has tried to maintain the polling places it has, knowing that voters don’t like change. But it’s a difficult task.
In addition, Missouri voters will be navigating new ID requirements on Tuesday, potentially creating more complications for those who are motivated to cast a ballot and actually locate their polling sites. Legislators who supported the tougher voter ID law claimed they were fighting alleged voter fraud, but the effect could be to suppress turnout further.
More hurdles lead to fewer voters.
Never mind the fact that Missouri politicians have long resisted taking basic steps to make casting a ballot more convenient, including implementing more early voting options or scheduling elections on Saturdays.
Don’t be discouraged, though. We’re here to help.
Here’s what you need to know before you go vote Tuesday:
Check your voter status and find your polling location at www.kceb.org.
Bring an ID.
A Missouri driver or non-driver license, a U.S. passport or a military ID are acceptable documents for registered voters.
Registered voters without any of those documents can cast a ballot if they sign a legal form and also produce a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or an identification from a Missouri college, university or trade school.
Registered voters with no identification can cast a provisional ballot. It will count if they return with a photo identification or when their signature is matched in election data.
Finally, tell us about your experience with the new voter ID law. Email us at email@example.com or leave a comment on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KCStarOpinion.