With absentee voting already under way for the August election, a Missouri judge is considering whether to strike down the ballot summaries prepared for voters on proposed constitutional amendments addressing gun rights and transportation taxes. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem heard arguments on lawsuits claiming that the summaries prepared by the Republican-led Legislature are insufficient because they don’t mention some aspects of the measures. The lawsuit against the transportation sales tax also challenges the official financial summary, which states that it would generate $480 million annually for the state and $54 million for local governments. If Beetem rejects the ballot summaries, he could write new ones, which could invalidate any votes already cast under the current summaries.
If he were to strike down the summaries without writing replacements, the measures could effectively be knocked off the ballot because the Legislature is not in session to be able to approve new wording. The election is early next month.
Attorneys representing groups in favor of the measures argued the court has no legal authority to issue orders now that absentee voting has begun. They said the lawsuits should be dismissed.
Beetem gave no timetable for when he will rule. But no matter Beetem’s decision, the cases are likely to be appealed, extending the legal wrangling as the Aug. 5 election approaches.