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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Lawmakers endorse Missouri early voting measure

  • An early voting measure Missouri lawmakers endorsed Wednesday could wind up competing on the ballot with a more expansive version proposed through a petition drive.
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  • An early voting measure Missouri lawmakers endorsed Wednesday could wind up competing on the ballot with a more expansive version proposed through a petition drive.
    The constitutional amendment, HJR 90, passed by the Legislature would allow ballots to be cast on six business days ending the Wednesday before an election. In-person ballots would be cast during the regular business hours of local election officials, who would be barred from activities or incurring expenses for early voting unless funding is included in the state budget. The measure states its provisions could not be repealed or invalidated by another constitutional amendment unless that measure specifically references them.
    The Legislature's approval means it will appear on the November ballot unless Gov. Jay Nixon sets a different election date.
    "It gives voters the ability to cast an informed decision, and at the same time, gives them the flexibility to cast a vote before Election Day," said sponsoring Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville.
    Democratic critics contend the Legislature's proposal is too narrow. Rep. Randy Dunn called it a "sham."
    "This is not real early voting," said Dunn, of Kansas City.
    The other early voting proposal possibly headed for this fall's ballot would permit a six-week early voting period and require officials to accommodate early voting on Saturdays and Sundays for the final 21 days before federal or state elections. Supporters said they gathered about 300,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, and a former chief of staff for Attorney General Chris Koster is the campaign treasurer.
    House members approved the narrower proposal 92-57 on Wednesday. Earlier this week, the Senate passed it 22-8.
    State law says if conflicting constitutional amendments pass at the same election, the measure receiving the largest affirmative vote takes effect.
    Missouri residents currently can cast absentee ballots under limited circumstances, such as if they will be out-of-town on Election Day. Lawmakers referred a two-part constitutional amendment to the 2012 ballot to authorize voter photo ID and early voting laws, but a judge struck down legislators' summary of the measure.
    Initiative petitions in previous years have prompted action by Missouri lawmakers.
    After voters passed new requirements for dog-breeders in 2010, the Legislature revamped it the following year. In 1994, the Democratic-controlled Missouri Legislature approved campaign finance legislation. Two organizations were circulating petitions on the topic.
    Lawmakers limited contributions to $250 for House races, $500 for the Senate and $1,000 for statewide candidates with adjustments for inflation. One initiative group dropped its plans when the Legislature acted, but another organization continued. Voters approved tighter limits of $100 for the House, $200 for the Senate and $300 for governor. The voter-imposed limits were overturned in court, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld those from the Legislature.
    Lawmakers since have repealed Missouri's campaign finance limits.

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