Happy Fourth of July. Unfortunately, the Missouri Republican Party is trying hard to limit our constitutional right to vote as we approach this Independence Day.

The Missouri Constitution’s preamble starts “We, the people of Missouri…” That means all of the people. Fearmongering by the governor and Republican legislators really says, “We, the conservative legislative and executive branches of government…”

On May 29, the Missourian reported: “Gov. Mike Parson said Missourians should stay home rather than vote in Tuesday’s local elections if they feel at risk because of the coronavirus.” By that time, it was too late to request a mail-in ballot for the June 2 municipal election.

Meanwhile, the president is attempting to defund the U.S. Postal Service to further undercut our ability to vote-by-mail.

Why restrict the number of voters in future elections? Because that is the only way to guarantee the GOP will stay in power. The president has said so himself.

There will be one major issue on the August ballot, as well as the primary contenders for state and federal offices on the November ballot.

In August, the expansion of Medicaid for Missourians who cannot afford medical insurance is at stake. The 2020 Amendment 2 will ask the voters of Missouri if they want to expand Medicaid to “adults that are 19 years old or older and younger than 65 whose income is 133% of the federal poverty level or below…”

In addition, the proposed amendment will keep our legislators from placing additional restrictions or limitations as to who is eligible for Medicaid health coverage.

The passage of Amendment 2 would be a big win for Missouri and something the GOP would not like. To them, Medicaid expansion fits into that unholy category of “socialism.”

This is an important point. Missouri’s GOP legislators wish to undo the 2018 voter-approved Amendment 1, which changed the method of establishing congressional districts in Missouri, by placing their own version of the amendment to the people of Missouri. Republican legislators contend that the citizens of Missouri were too uninformed (re: stupid) to make logical decisions.

Will our August vote on the Amendment 2 also be seen by the Republicans as the voters not being smart enough to know what they are voting for?

I believe the GOP would take that stance if it were not for the second statement of the proposed amendment — not allowing legislative restrictions or limitations.

Back to our right to vote by mail. The list of eligible reasons to submit an absentee ballot was expanded with SB631 to include COVID-19 but only if “the voter has contracted or is in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus.” That includes if you are over 65, if you have a chronic health condition or live in a long-term care facility. Other voters seeking mail-in ballots without meeting those conditions will need to have the ballot notarized.

Unfortunately, this provision for COVID-19 will expire on Dec. 31.

We know that the simple fear of catching COVID-19 is not an excuse for an absentee ballot concerning healthy voters in Missouri.

If Parson has his way restricting the vote, using fearmongering to convince eligible voters not to vote and not telling the citizens of Missouri about the expansion for eligibility for mail-in ballots, the amendment may find its way to failure.

By telling Missouri’s constituency not to vote if they are not comfortable due to COVID-19, the governor and legislators are essentially skewing the vote in the GOP’s favor.

When it comes to voting, the GOP wants legislation that would give them the advantage, not to extend a constitutional right to vote or medical coverage to all those eligible.

I am advocating that you vote in the August and November elections either in person or by mail, but I also want you to stay safe. If you must vote in person, please wear a mask and keep social distancing.

Ask for a mail-in ballot for both elections if you are not comfortable going to the polls. Yes, you have to stipulate that you are in the high-risk pool, ill, will be gone from your “jurisdiction” (on vacation or business out of town), unable to vote because of your religious beliefs, incarcerated, employed as an election judge or registered in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program.

To preserve your right to vote, you must register to vote by July 8 and request an absentee ballot by July 23 online or in person. Even the president has voted via mail-in ballot in the Florida primaries, his new “home” state.

David Rosman is an award- winning editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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