Missouri election threats

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Voter registration

This section details threats to voters from and problems with the state's voter registration system.

Verification, database and rejection

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's voter registration rejection system as "unsatisfactory," citing, "The voter will not be registered unless he/she includes a valid identification number (either driver’s license or SSN)."[1]
  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's voter registration verification system as "unsatisfactory," citing, "The voter’s driver’s license number, last name, and date of birth are verified against the records of the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the voter provides a SSN instead of a driver’s license number, it is compared to the records of the Social Security Administration. The state has not issued any statements regarding the matching system it is using."[1]

NVRA implementation

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's NVRA implementation as "unsatisfactory," citing, "ACORN/Project Vote/Demos successfully filed suit against Missouri Department of Social Services for non-compliance with NVRA §7. State claimed it is in compliance with the law, but the court ruled that the DSS must improve its voter registration procedures."[1]

Voter education

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on voter education, how to vote, information on elections, etc.

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's sample ballots as "mixed," citing, "does not send sample ballots to voters." "Offers sample ballots online where available and explains where voters can find a sample ballot." "Some counties send out sample ballots to their voters.[1]
  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's absentee ballot system as "mixed."[1]

Absentee and early voting

This section details problems with and threats to the state's absentee and early voting system.

  • October 10, 2008. An absentee ballot mailer from the St. Louis City Democratic Party is confusing voters into thinking that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is endorsing candidates[2]. The mailer appeared to voters to come from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. It contained an absentee ballot application, but the tear-off also contained candidate endorsements. While the mails said it was from the St. Louis City Democratic Club that was printed in letters too small to notice. Brian Wahby, the chairman of the St. Louis Democrats, tells the Post-Dispatch “the source of confusion is due to a printing error that occurred at the mail house.”
  • September 16, 2008. The McCain campaign is accused of sending invalid absentee ballot applications to Democratic voters in Missouri. The applications will be rejected but the voter will think there is an absentee ballot coming[3]. Other stories say this in not an attempt to disenfranchise voters[4].

"Reports from around the country advise that John McCain's campaign has sent confusing or incorrect absentee ballot request forms to voters in ten states at least. Affected so far are Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon (reported by blogger, not confirmed) Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin."

Voter suppression and intimidation

This section details problems and threats involving fraud, intimidation and suppression efforts.

Deceptive practices laws

Voter caging, purges and other eligibility challenges

  • On September 30, 2008, the Brennan Center for Justice released a comprehensive report on voter purging[5]. Appendix A[6] of the report, titled Missouri Case Study, begins, "Between 2005 and 2006, Missouri deleted 416,478 names from the voter rolls, representing 10.4% of the registered population in the state. At the end of 2006, Missouri had 4,007,174 registered voters." Purging methods listed in the case study are:
    • Change of Address. Missouri requires that voters found not to live at an address that is visited in a house-to-house canvass be sent notices of removal, then removed if there is no response. Voters can be removed for not responding to other mailed notices. One election official ... reported that if any of the sample ballots that are mailed to registrants before every election (generally three or four mailings each year) is returned as undeliverable, an address confirmation notice is mailed, triggering the process ... that may lead to eventual removal. Not voting in two elections in some cases triggers the process as well.
    • Duplicates. Ohio does not have consistent methods for removing duplicate registrations, sometimes resulting in the removal of voters with similar names or addresses.
    • Death. Different counties use different methods for determining whether a voter has died. "...one county reported receiving information on decedents from the department of health and senior services once a month.32 Another election official reported accepting personal knowledge of elections staff and notification by relatives of a decedent. One county reported thoroughly investigating reports of deaths offered by individuals. And while one county reported use of newspaper obituaries to identify deceased registrants, another county reported never using them at all. Despite concerted efforts to efficiently and accurately identify and remove deceased registrants, state election officials pointed out that the process is imperfect, since it cannot account for deaths of residents that occur out of state."
    • Criminal Conviction. Missouri law says people cannot vote while incarcerated. "Despite the appearance of broad authority to purge, Missouri law does provide some protection from erroneous removal by qualifying this authority thorough the requirement that election officials “determine the voting qualifications of those reported convicted or pardoned.”42 Consequently, election officials must also engage themselves with records regarding the restoration of voting rights to people who have completed all terms of their incarceration, probation, and parole,43 or who have been pardoned by the governor.44 Two election officials reported that people who wish to be restored to the voter rolls must provide documentation of their eligibility to elections office staff."
    • Adjudication of Mental Incapacitation.
Main article: Voter roll purges

Voter intimidation and deception

  • November 4, 2008. People reported receiving text messages and robo-calls asking them to vote on Wednesday instead of Election Day.[7][8] Secretary of State Robin Carnahan issued a press release warning of the misleading text messages being sent, specifically to Obama voters. The messages told people that because of long lines, that they could vote on Wednesday, which is untrue. The text messages are designed to look like a CNN news alert. "I have no tolerance for anyone intentionally causing confusion on Election Day,” Carnahan said in a statement. ”Every eligible Missourian should be able to cast their ballot today, and my office will immediately respond to any reports of misinformation." [9] Similar deceptive text messages were reported reported in several states.
  • Secretary of State Robin Carnahan issued a press release on November 3, 2008 addressing the issue of robocalls that are giving potential voters incorrect information about where and when to vote. "“I have zero tolerance for any person or group who is spreading false information about the upcoming Election. There is no place in Missouri for this type of intimidation,” Carnahan said. “I will work to identify and prosecute anyone attempting to deprive voters of their rights on Election Day. The best way for Missourians to combat this type of misinformation is to talk with their neighbors and family and make sure they know when to go to the polls and what to bring with them.” She asked that people who receive the robocalls report it to the Election Division Hotline at 1-800-NOW-VOTE. [1]
  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's poll challenger rules as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Each political party may appoint a challenger to be present at each precinct; challenges may be made when the challenger believes the state’s election laws have been violated. Challengers must be registered to vote in the same jurisdiction as the voter they are challenging. May be made at any time until the polls close on Election Day."[1]

Polling places and voting

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on election practices, polling places, workers, providing election equipment, etc.

Poll worker training, recruitment and distribution

Voter ID requirements

Polling place accessibility and wait times

  • A FairVote survey of Missouri election officials finds that voters might face long lines to vote in November.[10]

Voting machine and ballot distribution

Malfunctioning voting machinery

  • For an extensive log of voting machine problems, see the VotersUnite! report on election incidents.[11]

Ballot design

Provisional ballots

This section lists past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on provisional ballots. Particularly, what are the state's criteria for receiving a provisional ballot (including voting in the wrong precinct) and its procedures for verifying eligibility and then including those votes in the totals.

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's provisional ballot distribution system as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Provisional ballot provided if voter’s eligibility cannot be established at polling place and the voter provides a form of personal identification. Provisional ballots cannot be used for voters who cannot meet the identification standard."[1]


Eligibility verification

Ballots cast in wrong precinct

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Missouri's provisional ballot system for voters in the wrong precincts as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Provisional ballot not counted if cast in wrong precinct. Poll workers required by law to direct voters to the proper precinct if they appear at the wrong precinct."[1]
  • Advancement Project calls on local election authorities to count provisional ballots cast at the wrong polling places, due to poll workers' failure to direct voters to their correct polling places.


Vote verification and security

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on vote verification and security.

Voting machine verification and security

Vote tabulation procedures

Recount procedures

Chain of custody of ballots and e-voting equipment

Election public official issues

Premature media race calling

Vote result challenge procedures

Articles and resources

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Common Cause chart of election issues in Missouri, part of the "Voting in 2008: 10 Swing States," a Common Cause report released September 16, 2008. The areas looked at include: voter registration, voter identification, caging and challenges, deceptive practices, provisional ballots, voting machine allocation, poll worker recruitment and training, voter education and student voting rights.
  2. "St Louis Mailer Causes Absentee Confusion," PubDef Daily Political News (St. Louis, Missouri) October 10, 2008.
  3. Numerous news stories report this, including Absentee Ballot Mailer Fiasco Spreads - Could Disqualify Some Voters, September 16, 2008.
  4. McCain 'Absentee Ballot Request' Mailers Are Aggressive, But APPEAR To Be Legit, Brad Blog, September 11, 2008.
  5. Myrna Pérez, "Voter Purges," Brennan Center for Justice, September 30, 2008.
  6. The Missouri Case Study is listed in contents as Appendix A, but in the appendix as Appendix 1. The appendix is online at Appendix 1: Missouri Case Study
  7. Text messages spread false information, KSDK.com, November 4, 2008.
  8. "Fake Text Messages Aim to Delay Obama Voters," MyFox Kansas City, November 4, 2008.
  9. Jack Wagman, "Carnahan warns about misleading text messages," St. Louis Post Dispatch", November 4, 2008.
  10. FairVote: New Study: Missouri May Experience Long Lines on Election Day, August 7, 2008.
  11. This past problem and description are from the VotersUnite! Election Problem Log. Click through for included links to origin of report.
  12. Advancement Project Makes Plea to Approve Some Provisional Ballots in Missouri, Advancement Project press release, November 13, 2008

External resources

Poll location

Election Protection hotlines

Voting information

Voting rights

Voting requirements

Election officials, election reform groups, and elected officials

Absentee voting

Disabled voters

Student voting rights

State ballot

  • See how organizations you trust recommend you vote on ballot measures and other statewide contests at TransparentDemocracy.


  • Help in other languages from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 中文, 日本語, 한국어, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt, Español

Voting machines

External articles