Missouri’s Aug. 5 elections could provide a case study for the ability of governors to affect proposed ballot measures, both politically and legally. Five proposed constitutional amendments will go before voters this summer, instead of during the November elections, because of a decision by Gov. Jay Nixon. The governor’s prerogative is provided for in the Missouri Constitution and has been used by many chief executives over the years to shift measures off the general election ballot and on to the August primaries. Those decisions can carry political consequences and, as a recent court ruling has shown, may also have legal implications. The political ramifications are perhaps best illustrated by proposed Constitutional Amendment 1, which seeks to create a right to farm similar to what already exists with the rights of free speech, assembly and religion.
The measure was referred to Missouri’s 2014 ballot by the Republican-led Legislature, with the support of some Democrats, by overwhelming vote margins in May 2013.
Assuming the measure would be on the November ballot, the Republican State Committee voted to endorse it in February and prepared to actively promote it. Rural Missouri residents tend to vote more for Republican legislative candidates than Democratic ones, so a farming amendment on the November ballot could presumably draw GOP-leaning voters to the polls.