Elections

Voter ID confusion over registration cards reported at some Missouri polls

These Kansas City voters were out early Tuesday morning and still had a lengthy wait at the Country Club Christian Church on Ward Parkway.
These Kansas City voters were out early Tuesday morning and still had a lengthy wait at the Country Club Christian Church on Ward Parkway. rsugg@kcstar.com

Some Missouri voters were allegedly told they did not have proper identification to vote in Tuesday’s elections, despite having the right documents.

Through calls made to The Star and tips left on the Pro Publica Election Hotline, voters from Kansas City, St. Louis, Lee’s Summit, Hazlewood, St. Charles, St. Louis and Excelsior Springs, among others, have claimed that election officials were suppressing their right to vote.

Sheryl Porter says she was told at about 9 a.m. at the St. Sabinah polling place in Cass County that she needed a photo ID to vote, despite having a voter registration card.

“I told her the information she was sharing was not correct,” Porter said.

In Missouri, a voter registration card satisfies the voter ID requirement. Voters can also present a college identification, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or any other government document — without a photo — that confirms a name and address.

Corey Dillon, the Democratic director of the Jackson County Election Board, said she received reports of identification issues Tuesday, but that a number of the cases were a misunderstanding.

“The confusion was that people were bringing their poll identification cards,” Dillon said. “The poll notification card looks very similar to a voter registration card, but it is very different ... poll notification cards are not an acceptable ID. They never have been.”

Porter said that despite having proper identification, the worker “insisted” that she show a photo ID or sign a document if she did not do so, a practice outlawed in Missouri last month by district ruling.

“I told her the judge overruled that law,” Porter said. “But that didn’t change her opinion.”

Porter reported the issue to The Star as well as state and Jackson County election officials and told her friends to bring a photo ID. She asked them to try and vote without showing it, to see if they would encounter the same problem.

“Cass County is a Republican county and I’m a Democratic voter,” Porter said. “I wanted to make sure that any Democratic, or any Republican voter also, I wanted them to be able to come in and vote... I know what the law says and it needs to be followed.”

By 10:30 a.m., Porter said her friends texted her saying they were allowed to vote by just showing their registration cards, and that the same woman who had tried to prevent Porter from voting had not done the same to them.

In Lee’s Summit, Taylor Fritz encountered a similar problem at about 6:30 a.m. when he tried to vote at the Legacy Park Community Center using his voter registration card.

“I got to the front of the line and they told me ‘that’s not a valid ID, you’re going to have to use something else,’” Fritz said. “There were signs in the building saying I could use the card, online says I could use the card, so I was pretty confused.”

Fritz said he had a state-issued ID, so he used that to vote. He added that his girlfriend went to the same poll at about 5 p.m. with just a registration card and was permitted to vote without issue.

This story includes information that started with a tip from ProPublica’s Electionland project, which monitors voting problems around the country.

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