Missouri Early Voting Period, Amendment 6 (2014)

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Amendment 6
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Missouri Constitution
Referred by:Missouri Legislature
Topic:Elections and campaigns on the ballot
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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August 5
Amendment 1 Approveda
Amendment 5 Approveda
Amendment 7 Defeatedd
Amendment 8 Defeatedd
Amendment 9 Approveda
November 4
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Local measures

The Missouri Early Voting Period, Amendment 6 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Missouri as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would establish a six-day long early voting period starting in 2016.[1]

The measure was sponsored in the Missouri Legislature by Rep. Tony Dugger (R-141) as House Joint Resolution 90.[2]

An initiated constitutional amendment, which would provide six weeks of early voting, including some weekends, may appear on the same ballot. If the early voting initiative joins the legislative version 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

Ballot title

The official ballot text reads as follows:[4]

Official Ballot Title:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the Election Day in all general elections?
State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to permit voters, in years when the legislature provides funding, an early voting period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before Election Day to cast a ballot in all general elections. This amendment does not allow early voting on Saturday or Sunday.
A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to provide all voters with a six-business day early voting period.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.[5]

Constitutional changes

If the measure is approved, it will amend Article VIII of the Missouri Constitution by adding Section 11 to read as follows:[6]

Section 11. 1. Qualified voters of the state shall be entitled to vote in person or by mail in advance of the day of the general elections, but only under the following subdivisions:
(1) Qualified voters casting ballots under this section shall have been registered to vote, unless otherwise provided by law, on or before the fourth Wednesday prior to the day of the election;
(2) No qualified voter shall be required to state any reason, excuse, or explanation for casting a ballot under this section;
(3) Ballots shall be cast in person or by mail only during the six business days, not to include Saturday or Sunday, immediately prior to and including the last Wednesday prior to the election day. In-person ballots shall be cast at the local election authority during its regular business hours;
(4) Each local election authority shall appoint at least one election judge from each major political party to serve at the site of the local election authority. Procedures for appointing judges, casting ballots, and tabulating ballots shall be the same as provided by general election laws.

2. No local election authority or other public official shall, in advance of the day of the election, disclose the identity of any qualified voter who, in advance of the day of the election, has cast or has not cast a ballot, unless the qualified voter has authorized the disclosure. A qualified voter's authorization must be in writing, signed by the qualified voter, dated, and delivered to the secretary of state no later than the sixth Wednesday prior to the day of the election. An authorization is effective only for one general election.

3. If any local election authority is required by any provision of law or of this constitution to produce, in advance of the day of the election, a list of qualified voters who have already cast ballots, such list shall designate those qualified voters who have not filed a valid written authorization under subsection 2 of this section by using a random designation that does not identity those qualified voters or provide residential or other personal information from which their identities might be determined. If any such list is required to be delivered promptly after a request, the list shall be deemed to have been promptly delivered if it is delivered no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Monday before the election day. In addition to the restrictions in this section on the provision of identifying information, any such list shall include only qualified voter information authorized to be disclosed pursuant to general election laws.

4. The secretary of state and local election authorities shall provide qualified voters mail-in ballots under this section only by mail, and only upon the written, signed, and dated request of a qualified voter. Such request shall be valid for only one general election. No qualified voter shall receive more than one mail-in ballot.

5. No local election authority or other public office shall conduct any activity or incur any expense for the purpose of allowing voting in person or by mail in advance of the general election day unless a state appropriation is made and disbursed to pay the local election authority or other public office for the increased cost or expense of the activity.

6. The provisions of this section shall be self-executing. Any law that conflicts with this section shall not be valid or enforceable. If any provision of this section is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or unconstitutionally enacted, the remaining provisions of this section shall be and remain valid. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to repeal or invalidate section 7 of article VIII of this constitution or to repeal or invalidate general laws permitting certain qualified voters to cast absentee ballots. This section shall not be repealed or invalidated by constitutional amendment, in whole or in part, unless the text of the amending provision expressly references this section or the parts thereof that are to be repealed, and no part of this section shall be repealed by implication.[5]

Background

See also: Missouri Early Voting Initiative (2014)

The initiative version of an early voting measure was formed well before HJR 90 was put forward in the state legislature, causing some to accuse the measure of preemptive legislative tampering. 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 the 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 hours, and specifically excludes weekend voting, which is included in the initiated version.[7][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 version and saying, "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]

Support

Arguments

Sen. Kraus has argued that HJR 90 provides early voting at a reasonable cost.[3]

Opposition

  • Missouri Jobs with Justice

Arguments

Missouri Jobs with Justice has called the HJR 90 "a sham Early Voting bill." They have further claimed that, "It was only passed to confuse voters and undermine the citizen-led Early Voting petition."[8]

Reports and analyses

Missouri Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIII

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."[9] 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 fully adopted such practices after 1998.[10]

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.[11][12] There are, of course, many variables within each of these types of reform. As the competing legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and initiated constitutional amendment in Missouri demonstrate, the number of days, weekday versus weekend and work 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

Proposed constitutional amendments must be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly. HJR 90 was passed by the Missouri Senate on May 12, 2014. The amendment was passed by the Missouri House on May 14, 2014.[13]

Senate vote

May 12, 2014 Senate vote

Missouri HJR 90 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 22 73.33%
No826.64%

House vote

May 14, 2014 House vote

Missouri HJR 90 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 94 62.25%
No5737.75%

See also

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