Missouri Early Voting Initiative (2014)

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The Missouri Early Voting Initiative may appear on the November 4, 2014 general election ballot in Missouri as an initiated constitutional amendment. If approved by voters, the measure would implement a six-week early voting period and require some polling places to remain open on Saturdays and Sundays during the 21 days leading up to a state or federal election.[1][2]

The Missouri State Legislature has placed a competing legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot, which would only provide six work days of early voting during regular business hours. If the early voting initiative joins the legislative version on the ballot and both are approved, state law provides that the measure receiving the most votes would take precedent.[3]

Background

See also: Missouri Early Voting Period Amendment, HJR 90 (2014)

The push for early voting via initiative faced preemptive legislative tampering when the issue became entangled in negotiations between state Democratic and Republican legislators. On May 14, 2014, the House followed the Senate in approving House Joint Resolution 90 to allow early voting for 6 days. Democrats criticized the measure as attempting to block this initiated constitutional amendment, which would provide a more extensive early voting period. The legislative version allows for six days of early voting by mail or in-person during regular business, and specifically excludes weekend voting, which is included in the initiated measure.[4][3]

Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, which supported the petition effort, argued that the legislative measure would not provide relief for working people who are unable to get to the polls during the day. Additionally, the legislative version would only allow early voting in the central election authority's office, while the petition version called for larger counties to have additional locations based on population. Sen. Will Kraus (R-8) defended the legislative version by denying that it was intended to block the initiative. He said, "We’re trying to get early voting at a reasonable cost."[3]

MO Jobs with Justice logo.jpg

Despite earlier objections, Democrats in the Senate did not filibuster HJR 90 due to a deal which exchanged Democrats allowing an abortion waiting period measure and this early voting measure to pass for Republicans not putting forward measures requiring voter photo identification or requiring public-sector unions to get annual written authorization to deduct dues or fees from paychecks. If the early voting initiative joins HJR 90 on the ballot and both are approved, state law provides that the measure which receives the most votes would take precedent.[3]

Text of measure

Three versions of this measure were submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State and approved for petition circulation. The full text of each version can be found in the external links section. Their certified ballot titles are as follows:[2]

Version 4

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to provide all voters a period of six weeks prior to Election Day to cast a ballot in all federal and state general elections at either a central voting location or, depending on the number of registered voters in the jurisdiction, a satellite voting site?

State government would have unknown costs and local governments could have total startup costs of up to $2.5 million and total on-going costs ranging from $770,000 to $9.5 million for each election cycle depending on election authority compensation, staffing, and planning decisions.[5]

Version 5

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to provide all voters a period of six weeks prior to Election Day to cast a ballot in all federal and state general elections at either a central voting location or, depending on the number of registered voters in the jurisdiction, a satellite voting site?

State government would have unknown costs and local governments could have total startup costs of up to $2.5 million and total on-going costs ranging from $834,000 to $9.9 million for each election cycle depending on election authority compensation, staffing, and planning decisions.[5]

Version 6

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to provide all voters a period of six weeks prior to Election Day to cast a ballot in all federal and state general elections at either a central voting location or, depending on the number of registered voters in the jurisdiction, a satellite voting site?

State government would have unknown costs and local governments could have total startup costs of up to $2 million and total on-going costs ranging from $705,000 to $7.5 million for each election cycle depending on election authority compensation, staffing, and planning decisions.[5]

Support

MO Early Voting Fund logo.png

Supporters

Matthew L. Dameron submitted three versions of this initiative to the Missouri Secretary of State.[2] Dameron is the treasurer of Missouri Early Voting Fund, which is supporting the initiative.[6] Missouri Jobs with Justice is also supporting the measure.[7]

Arguments

The Missouri Early Voting Fund has given the following arguments for this initiative:[8]

  • Increased work mobility and longer, unpredictable hours make it more challenging for voters to get to the polls.
  • "Early voting allows individuals the flexibility they need to complete their civic participation, but does not change the eligibility requirements. Early voting provides every registered voter with the additional flexibility that many need to participate in our great civic tradition."
  • Missouri is one of 15 states that does not have early voting or no excuse absentee voting. Meanwhile, early voting nationwide has increased from 7.2 percent in 1992 to 31.2 percent in 2012.

Missouri Jobs with Justice argues that, "This initiative is critical to expand access to the right to vote for working people."[9]

Campaign contributions

Missouri Early Voting Fund is the only committee registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission for the early voting initiative. The following numbers are current as of the April 2014 quarterly report, at which time the committee had $11,846.56 on hand.[10][11]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Missouri Early Voting Fund $428,150.00 $416,303.44
Total $428,150.00 $416,303.44

Contributors $25,000 and above:

Donor Amount
National UAW Community Action Program (CAP) $35,000
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union $30,000
IUOE Local 513 Political & Educational Fund $25,000
Cary & Danis, LLC $25,000
CHIPP Political Account $25,000
Langdon & Emison $25,000
Operating Engineers Local 101 Political Action Committee $25,000
Davis, Bethune & Jones, LLC $25,000
Davis, Ketchmark, McCreight & Ivers, PC $25,000

Reports and analysis

The most effective reforms to encourage greater voter participation are not clear. Though multiple studies of various reforms have been undertaken, they often produce conflicting or unclear results. A 2013 study of early voting found that it "is actually associated with lower turnout when it is implemented by itself." The same study, conducted at the University of Wisconsin, also noted that same-day voter registration "has a consistently positive effect on turnout."[12] However, earlier studies have produced conflicting results. For example, a 2007 study from Reed College found that between 1980 and 2004 early voting generally had no impact on turnout. The exception was one state that had only full adopted such practices after 1998.[13]

This study and another from 2010 suggest that the institution of early voting may have a short-term impact on turnout while the option is novel, but after a few elections, the impact is negligible.[14][15] There are, of course, many variables within each type of reform. As the competing legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and initiated constitutional amendment in Missouri demonstrate, the number of days, weekdays versus weekends and business versus evening hours are all potential variables, and are likely to have an impact on how much early voting will be utilized.

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Missouri Constitution

The supporting group had until May 4, 2014 to turn in the required amount of valid signatures. Missouri law states that signatures must be obtained from registered voters equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor's election from 6 of the state's 8 congressional districts. For initiated constitutional amendments, the minimum number required is 157,788. Supporters reported that they submitted approximately 300,000 signatures by the May deadline.[1] Now, the secretary of state's office has until the August 5, 2014 primary election to decide whether the measure should be certified.[16]

Similar measures

See also

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Teacher tenure, early voting measures submitted to Missouri secretary of state," May 4, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Missouri Secretary of State, "2014 Initiative Petitions Approved for Circulation in Missouri," accessed June 12, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Missouri lawmakers send early voting proposal to ballot," May 14, 2014
  4. Missouri House of Representatives, "HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 90 [TRULY AGREED TO AND FINALLY PASSED," accessed June 12, 2014]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. Missouri Early Voting Fund, "About the Missouri Early Voting Fund," accessed June 12, 2014
  7. Missouri Jobs with Justice, "300,000 Signatures for Early Voting Turned Into MO Secretary of State," June 12, 2014
  8. Missouri Early Voting Fund, "Why Missouri should have Early Voting," accessed June 12, 2014
  9. Missouri Jobs with Justice, "Every Saturday – Expand Voting Rights for All Missourians," accessed June 12, 2014
  10. Missouri Ethics Commission, "Missouri Early Voting Fund April 2014 quarterly report," April 15, 2014
  11. Missouri Ethics Commission, "Initial 15 Day Report for Missouri Early Voting Fund," February 10, 2014
  12. American Journal of Political Science, "Election Laws, Mobilization, and Turnout: The Unanticipated Consequences of Election Reform," September 9, 2013
  13. Gronke, P., Galanes-Rosenbaum, E. & Miller, P. A., Early Voting and Turnout, Portland: Reed College
  14. Giammo, J. D. (June 2010) Reducing the Costs of Participation: Are States Getting a Return on Early Voting? Political Research Quarterly, 63(2), 295-303
  15. Pew Research Center, "Study: Early voting associated with lower turnout," September 23, 2013
  16. ConnectMidMissouri, "Two petitions meet signature deadline," May 4, 2014