SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Today, 102 years ago, the first woman in Missouri voted. It was a landmark occasion for voting rights, but we still have some ways to go.

Marie Byrum cast her vote on Aug. 31, 1920, during a special election in Hannibal. The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified just days before, on Aug. 18.

Courtesy of Missouri State Archives

An official with the League of Women Voters of Missouri said they did not know how many women voters are turning up at the polls, but they did know that about 30% of qualified citizens in Missouri are not registered to vote.

According to 2020 United State census information, only 73.1% of Missouri citizens were registered to vote. Women register to vote more than men in Missouri: 75.5% of women are registered to vote while 70.5% of Missouri men are registered.

This year, on Aug. 28, Missouri restricted voting laws to require voters to present a government-issued photo ID before they cast their ballots. This decision was met with some backlash from advocates who fear the law discriminates against vulnerable demographics.

“This is a clear case of politicians picking their voters, not the other way around,” said Jacob Brower, secretary of VOTE417. “It’s dishonest, and it’s un-American.”

Brower added that this new law affects many elderly Missourians who no longer drive and will not renew their driver’s licenses.

“The most important thing people need to remember: Voting is a right, not a privilege,” Brower said. “The more barriers to government throws between you and the ballot box, the more important it is to vote.”

More people turned out to cast their votes in the 2020 election in Missouri than in 2018, 2016, and 2014.

President (Trump)Senate (Rep. Hawley) President (Trump)NeitherPresident (Romney)Senate (Rep. Blunt)President (McCain)Senate (Dem. McCaskill)President (Bush)Senate (Rep. Talent)President (Bush)
Information courtesy of Missouri Spatial Data Information Service

It should be noted that 2020 and 2016 were presidential election years, which may explain the zig-zag pattern of voter turnout over the past decade.

In 2020, 72.34% of Greene County voters cast their ballots for the presidential election. That’s better than the state’s turnout of 70.07%. However, in 2018 — a midterm election — only 60.77% of Greene County voters turned out, according to Missouri Secretary of State reports. In all of Missouri, 58.23% of voters participated.

Though Greene County shows up more than the rest of Missouri on average, its voter turnout during midterm elections follows the national trend of being significantly lower than in presidential elections.

Those who want to do their civic duty during the general election on Nov. 8, 2022, can prepare by finding out whether they are registered to vote, choosing to sign up to vote if they aren’t, and knowing which candidates and laws are going to be on the Missouri ballot.