© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health, Science, Environment

Missouri Republicans Call For Special Session On Election Reform, Voting Restrictions

 The Republican members of the House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials are calling on Gov. Parson to convene a special session of the legislature to address election reforms.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
The Republican members of the House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials are calling on Gov. Parson to convene a special session of the legislature to address election reforms.

Republican members of the Missouri House are calling for a special session on election reform as the legislative session comes to a close.

Members of the House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials wrote a letter to Governor Mike Parson Wednesday accusing the Missouri Senate of holding up efforts to overhaul the state's election laws.

“I have made it a priority since day one to support legislation that continues to ensure Missouri’s elections remain fair, transparent and trustworthy,” Republican Rep. Dan Shaul, the committee’s chair, said.

The proposed reforms include Voter ID requirements, reforms to initiative petitions, and restrictions on mail-in voting.

The committee claimed in its letter that the most recent presidential election featured "many discrepancies and issues with the election process in several states across this nation.”

Department of Justice officials say there is no evidence that voter fraud affected the 2020 election.

Shaul said he was confident in the way elections were conducted in Missouri but his goal is to make the state the "gold standard" of election security.

The move follows a trend of states including Georgia, Florida, Iowa and Montana that have recently passed restrictive voting bills into law.

In March, Georgia passed an overhaul of election laws including new limitations on mail-in voting and criminalized passing out food or drinks to voters waiting in line. Florida passed new legislation in April that also restricts mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit that tracks voting laws, legislators across the country introduced 361 bills with restrictive voting provisions in the first quarter of this year.

Democrats in Missouri are speaking out against the Republican lawmakers’ efforts.

“Republicans in Missouri want to bring the same anti-voter laws to our state that we’ve seen in Georgia and other places across the country. We don’t need those failed ideas in Missouri. Not now. Not in a special session. Not ever,” said Senate Democratic Leader John Rizzo of Independence.

Missouri Sen. Lauren Arthur, who’s district covers part of Clay County, spoke against the call for a special session in a comment to KCUR.

“I oppose wasting taxpayer dollars on a special session so Republican politicians can make it harder to vote and more difficult for citizens to participate in our Democracy,”

Shaul said in an interview that he was not confident that the voter reforms would pass before the legislative session’s adjournment and that the special session was the “next logical step.”

A spokesperson for Parson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.