JEFFERSON CITY — An initiative petition that seeks to put early voting on the November 2010 ballot has been approved for circulation by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
Jo Sapp of Columbia submitted the petition.
The full text of the initiative petition on early voting is available here.
Carnahan's office said in a news release that it would amend Chapter 115 of the Missouri Revised Statutes by allowing voters to cast ballots in person prior to Election Day without being required to give a reason. Also, the petition makes it clear that it would be illegal to cast both an early ballot and to vote at the polls for the same election.
“(Early voting) is an idea that has been floating around for several years,” said Sapp, a member of the League of Women Voters.
Carnahan said in the news release that the measure would cost the state $1.17 million in fiscal 2012. That includes a one-time cost of $705,000 plus $462,450 for each federal election. It is likely, she said, that state government would face additional costs for nonfederal elections and for establishing satellite voting sites. Decisions made by the election authority regarding specific early voting procedures would determine whether additional costs might arise.
The initiative petition, listed as 2010-064, states that election officials would conduct advanced voting at a central polling place, approved by the election authority, until the end of regular business hours on the Friday before a scheduled election.
For federal elections, the petition states that the election authority would establish sites in addition to the central voting location so that citizens can cast their votes in person beginning the third Wednesday before an election and ending at the close of business the Friday before an election.
Petitioners will have to collect thousands of signatures to get the measure on the ballot. State law requires the number of signatures be equivalent to 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the 2008 governor’s election in six of Missouri’s nine congressional districts. The petition must be submitted to the secretary of state by 5 p.m. May 2, 2010.
“Since (early voting) is something several other states do, we thought we ought to take a look at it to see if it would be right for Missouri,” Sapp said, referring to supporters of early voting that she has encountered during her work on other election issues.
The initiative petition comes after a recent announcement from the League of Women Voters of Missouri that it would launch a study of how early voting works in other states. Sapp said her submission of the initiative petition was an independent action, however, and was entirely unrelated to that study.