The Republican-controlled Missouri House endorsed a pair of measures Wednesday that would expand early voting, though Democratic critics called it a “sham” that could circumvent a separate voting initiative that would go further. Missourians currently can cast absentee ballots under limited circumstances, including if they will be out of town on Election Day. The proposal that won first-round approval Wednesday would send a constitutional amendment to the ballot allowing early voting for nine days and ending the week before the election. Companion legislation would call for polls to be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday for four hours.
Separately, the Missouri Early Voting Fund is attempting to gather thousands of required signatures from registered voters in hopes of getting its proposal on this year’s ballot. That measure would allow early voting for six weeks and require officials accommodate early voting on Saturday and Sunday for the final 21 days before federal or state elections.
A former chief of staff for Attorney General Chris Koster is the campaign’s treasurer, and the group is using professional petition circulators and volunteers to obtain signatures.
Some Democratic lawmakers said a meaningful early voting period would be longer than the House’s proposal. They said Sundays have been the most popular day for early voting in other states.