Coalition claims Missouri violates National Voter Registration Act

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The League of Women Voters claims the state of Missouri is failing to carry out important provisions of the National Voter Registration Act.

A federal hearing will determine whether the state should be forced to make changes to its voter registration services.

Federal law requires states to register voters when they apply for, or renew their driver's licenses.

The League of Women Voters claims that doesn't always happen in Missouri, particularly when people update their driver's licenses or state identification cards using online change of address forms.

The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition says that some people who tried to vote Tuesday were denied because the state did not update their voter registrations after they changed their addresses on their driver's license records.

"The concern we have is that it’s not easy for people to register to vote," said Cheryl Barnes, a board member of the local League of Women Voters chapter. "When they go to register to vote at the department of motor vehicles locations, not everyone is being asked to register to vote. Sometimes that is just skipped over and it’s a crime, in that people rely on these institutions to make things happen in the proper manner."

The state is arguing that it does offer to register voters when people come into license bureaus and verify their age, citizenship and home address. The Department of Revenue says online changes are for mailing correspondence only.

The state says address changes don't always mean someone has moved and also needs a voter registration change.

Missouri has recorded more than 489,000 address changes in driver's license records since November of 2016. Lawyers argue it would be a burden to update voter registrations each time and sort out post office boxes or business addresses from true residences.