Voters could have an extra six days to cast ballots during the 2016 presidential election if a proposal to change the Missouri Constitution gets enough support on Election Day. Touted by Republicans as making voting more accessible and faulted by Democrats as not making it accessible enough, proposed Amendment 6 would allow registered voters to cast a ballot for six days ending the Wednesday before a general election, not including weekends. Unlike the six-week period of absentee voting in Missouri, residents wouldn’t need an excuse to vote — in-person or with mail-in ballots — early. The catch: Local election offices could hold early voting only if the state agrees to pay for the costs, estimated at close to $2 million the first year and at least $100,000 per election in following years. That has some local clerks worried that they might not get enough state funding and be saddled with expenses. To that end, a state appeals court panel ordered a description of the initiative for the Nov. 4 ballot be changed to add the state-dependent funding.
Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to vote early without an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio and Wisconsin have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days it is available.
Missouri’s GOP-controlled Legislature began pursuing an early-voting amendment this spring in response to a push by Democratic-aligned groups for a six-week period. That proposal, which failed to get enough signatures to make the ballot, also would have allowed voting on Saturdays and Sundays for the final 21 days before federal or state elections.