JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Signatures collected throughout the state regarding early voting were filed. The initiative petition, supported by Missouri Jobs with Justice, changes the early voting period to 6 weeks, with extended weekend and evening hours.
The signatures were wheeled in a half hour before the 5:00pm deadline. Though approximately 160,000 signatures (8% of the population) are required, supporters say over 300,000 signatures were collected in total.
Lara Granich, Director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, compared that the “soundness” of the petition initiative to the limited “banker’s hours” of HJR90.
“The initiative petition is an example of a really sound early voting measure. The HJR is a sham compared to [the petition], which only has banker’s hours and limited weekend voting,” Granich said.
Comparatively, Granich said that the petition has a 6 week early voting period, which includes Saturday, Sunday, and weekday evenings, while the legislative efforts limit the voting period.
“The HJR only has a 9 day early voting period with a 10 day blackout period, which is really confusing to voters,” she said.
“We’re really excited to have the signatures in and to help expand voting in Missouri,” said Sean Nicholson of ProgressMissouri. “[The legislative efforts] are a cynical ploy to undermine what Missourians have shown that they want to see on the ballot.”
“I think the improvements made in the petition provide greater access than the bills in the legislature and I will be enthusiastically supporting those efforts,” said Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City.
However, not everyone agrees with the soundness and improvements of the initiative petition over the legislation.
“We are opposed to the language of the initiative petition,” said Susette Taylor, Atchison County Clerk and President of the Missouri County Clerks Association. “We are not against early voting; we want to make it convenient.”
Taylor explained that the fiscal note of the petition estimated an additional expense of $11 million for counties, which she says would cause counties to have to raise taxes.
“Right now, the petition’s language does not allow reimbursement from the state,” said Taylor. “We are working with the Secretary of State to make early voting beneficial, but not a burden, to tax payers.”
She explained that right now, counties do not have a system in place for “no excuse” early voting, but they do have absentee voting. Currently, elections cost counties between $5-6 million.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.