A six-week early voting period that was the subject of a petition drive failed to get enough signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
That means that the only early voting question that will be on the ballot in Missouri in November will be for a six-day period.
Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door is opposed to the six-day early voting period, saying it does not represent true early voting.
She noted that it would not allow voting after business hours or on weekends.
“It’s not a convenience to the voter,” Door said. “You still can’t come in late in the evening.”
The proposed six-week period that failed would have allowed some weekend voting.
The six-day early voting period would be for the six business days immediately prior to and including the last Wednesday before Election Day.
Moreover, the six days of early voting would only take place if the state allocated funds to pay for the increased costs of providing early voting.
A Missouri appeals court recently ruled that the ballot language for the six-day early voting period be changed to include language that says state funding must be disbursed in order for the early voting to take place.
Without that language, the ballot question made it sound as though early voting would be permitted for all future general elections, the court ruled.
Now the ballot language will say, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the election day in general elections, but only if the Legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?”
Door says the early voting could cause confusion for the voters.
She noted that voters are already allowed to vote absentee before Election Day if they have an excuse, such as being out of town.
People would not need an excuse during the six-day early voting period. They could just vote early as a means of convenience, for instance.
That means there will be six days when voters won’t need an excuse to vote before the election and then once it ends voters will once again need an excuse.
Her office already allows Saturday absentee voting with an excuse the weekend before the election.
Door said the six-week early voting period that failed to get enough votes in the petition drive more closely resembled true early voting.
However, Door said she was opposed to the six-week period as well because it would have not provided funding to the counties to cover the extra costs of the early voting. She also thinks six weeks is too long of an early voting period.
“The people that are doing these petitions are not election people,” Door asserted. “So they don’t hear what goes on in the polling places. They don’t hear what goes on at the desks in the county clerks’ offices. It’s a political issue. It’s politics; that’s all it is. It’s partisan politics at its best.”
Supporters of the six-week early period have said that it would increase access to the polls and that other states have implemented early voting.
Politics need to be set aside to develop a solution, Door said.
“I think the parties need to stop fighting amongst themselves and trying to get what they want and talk to the people who actually run the elections, which is the county clerks,” she said.
Door is skeptical that early voting would improve turnout at the polls.