Missouri voters may be facing a choice this November that could affect the integrity of the state’s elections for generations to come. The issue is that of early voting and which direction, if any, Missouri voters are going to choose to enact. Currently, the only early voting allowed in Missouri is that of absentee ballots by which voters must declare they will be out of town or otherwise unable to cast a ballot in person on election day. The Legislature passed a measure that the governor has placed on the November General Election ballot that would allow early voting with no explanation or excuse needed for six business days prior to the November General Election. This proposal would provide a means of early voting to increase voter turnout and ease election day waiting lines while not putting undue financial pressures on local election authorities.
Since the early voting days would be days throughout the week when the offices would be open anyway, the cost should be minimal. If there is determined to be a cost, an appropriation could be included in the budget to offset expenses incurred by counties.
A different measure has been put forth by the initiative petition process. Signed petitions have been submitted and are awaiting certification by the Secretary of State. If a sufficient number of valid signatures are found to have been collected, it could also be placed on the November General Election ballot. This proposal would mandate six weeks of early voting, including a requirement for some Saturdays and Sundays. There would clearly be a cost to local election officials with no mechanism for reimbursement. Also included is a provision allowing for the release of names of those who have cast early votes.