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Most Missourians support passing ballot measures without legislative interference, study finds

  

A majority of Missourians support the passage of constitutional amendments without interference from the legislature, according to a new study.

The survey, commissioned by national voting group Secure Democracy, found 80 percent of those polled believed the General Assembly should not have the power to block, limit, or reverse constitutional amendments approved by voters. Additionally, 55 percent of those polled said they would support legislation requiring a three-fourths vote of the legislature to alter or repeal a ballot measure. 

Ragnar Research, the firm commissioned to conduct the survey, polled Missourians earlier this month. Chris Perkins, a partner at the firm, said the results showed voters wanted the legislature to implement the will of the people.

“Voters want the ability to pass constitutional amendments with little interference from the state legislature,” Perkins said. “In fact, voters are supportive of issues that increase the difficulties for the state legislature to change, limit, or block any amendment passed by voters.”

Voters also opposed increasing the number of signatures needed to place an amendment on the ballot; of those polled, 55 percent opposed the proposition. Most also supported early voting options, with 64 percent of voters polling in favor. 

“At a time when our nation remains extremely polarized, strong majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents want policies that improve voter access and bolster election integrity,” said Sarah Walker, executive director of Secure Democracy. “Creating an early, in-person vote period in Missouri — something only eight states, including Missouri, do not provide to voters today — would be an extremely popular way to do just that.”

Finally, voters said they believed their votes were making a positive change, with 52 percent responding they believe constitutional amendments were a more effective way to enact positive change, while 61 percent believed ballot measures were more effective than exercising their vote on candidates. 

Legislative action on ballot measures has been a topic of discussion around Missouri recently; the House Budget Committee voted down a budget bill meant to fund the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program last week, which voters approved on the August ballot. Missouri was the 38th state to do so. 

Another survey published this week found 88 percent of Missourians, including many who voted against the measure, believed it was the legislature’s duty to implement the change approved by the people. 

Business leaders from St. Louis and Kansas City are advocating for the measure’s implementation as well, having sent a letter calling on Gov. Mike Parson and leadership in both chambers to expand coverage this week. 

A proposed constitutional amendment in the House this session would also alter the initiative petition process. The language would require a constitutional amendment to receive a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass and enact provisions on who could legally vote in an election. Another section would require 10 percent of voters in each congressional district to sign on. Voter rights groups demonstrated against the proposal Wednesday.