An early voting initiative petition is prompting a Missouri lawmaker to propose another version that could lead to voters deciding between competing plans. A House committee last week endorsed a constitutional amendment and companion legislation that would establish an early voting period. That comes as the Missouri Early Voting Fund is using professional petition circulators and volunteers to gather thousands of required signatures from registered voters in hopes of getting its proposal on this year’s ballot. The campaign treasurer for the initiative campaign is a former chief of staff for Attorney General Chris Koster. The initiative petition would allow early voting for six weeks and require that officials accommodate early voting on Saturday and Sunday for the final 21 days before federal or state elections. The proposal in the legislature calls for nine days of early voting and depends upon lawmakers to approve funding.
Sponsoring Rep. Tony Dugger said he foresees several problems with the initiative petition, such as not providing money for local election officials and permitting voting on Sundays.
“I want to protect the interests of the county clerks because I was a county clerk and I see what they’re getting ready to be hit with,” said Dugger, R-Hartville. “But I also see that the voters of this state would like to have some early voting. I’m open to that as well.”
Missourians currently can cast absentee ballots under limited circumstances, such as if they will be out of town on Election Day. The legislature referred a two-part constitutional amendment to the 2012 ballot to authorize voter photo ID and early voting laws, but it never appeared before voters because a judge struck down legislators’ summary of the measure.