Absentee voting opened Tuesday for the November general election, but local residents who want to vote early won’t get a real, official ballot Ñ at least not yet. That’s because all the ballots for the Missouri general election are being reprinted after an appeals court ordered a change to a proposed early voting amendment that will be decided in November. Ballots for most counties had been printed before the ruling was handed down, forcing county clerks order new, revised versions, said Bonnie Earl, Jasper County clerk. “We were pretty much blind-sided,” she said. Rep. Sue Entlicher, chairwoman of the House Elections Committee, said she will work on legislation aimed at preventing similar problems in the future. Under current law and court rulings, changes to ballot measures are allowed up to six weeks before the election Ð the same day that state law requires clerks to make absentee ballots available to the public.
“We can’t avoid it altogether, because future election issues could be challenged and then appealed, and the court sets its own schedule,” she said. “But we hope to be able to come up with some legislation that can make things better and get it ready to file before the start of the next session. It’s hard to make people obey the law if it can’t be obeyed.”
Entlicher, of Bolivar, was county clerk in Polk County for four terms before running for the House. She discussed the problem last week with county clerks who were meeting in Jefferson City.
Ballots already printed for Jasper and Newton counties have been destroyed, and new versions are being printed. Ironically, the focus of the flap is the proposed constitutional amendment on early voting. A panel of the Western District state appeals court ordered new ballot wording for the measure, which authorizes six days of no-excuse early voting for future general elections. The judges said the ballot summary approved by legislators was misleading because it failed to note the early voting would occur only if the state provides funding.