There is a bill making its way through the state legislature that would change the way we register to vote and how we conduct our primaries. HB 1639 was introduced by Rep. Jered Taylor and would force voters to register with a party 23 weeks before the primaries and would close our primaries to any voter who did not want to pick a party. This would be a step in the wrong direction and would limit participation.
Right now, Missouri, along with 15 other states has nonpartisan voter registration and open primaries. What that meant for the March 10th Presidential primaries, is that we could all select the party ballot that we wanted to vote in. Makes good sense, a simple and fair system that treats all Missouri voters equally.
Our state seal proudly proclaims, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” and the COVID-19 epidemic makes that more clear than ever. HB 1639 would needlessly create divisions among Missourians. At a critical moment when we need to bring people together across our state and across party lines, now is not the time to change our election process and restrict Missourians’ freedom to pick their ballot in the primaries. These are elections that all Missourians pay for with our tax dollars and in which all voters should be able to participate.
HB 1639 is in the House Rules Committee on Legislative Oversight. We hope these ten Rules Committee members from across our state will protect our primary system and vote no on HB 1639.
Mark W. Clark, St. James
Joann S. Orr, Steelville
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