Changes to election laws being debated in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Lawmakers in Jefferson City are debating several proposals that would change current elections laws.

One proposal would change the way Missouri’s primary’s are run.

Another would change the petition initiative process.

The lawmaker proposing changes to the primary system says he wants to eliminate the possibility of voters from one party trying to sabotage the other party’s results.

In 2012 many Democrats hoped Todd Akin would win the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate race.

Claire McCaskill ran unopposed in her primary.

Republican State Lawmaker Jered Taylor testified before lawmakers that during that primary, voters from one party crossed over to influence the other party’s outcome.

State Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Nixa), said, “Why wouldn’t we want to pick the weaker candidate but that’s not fair that’s not who we are as an American that is rigging the process.”

He’s proposing legislation that would require Missouri primary voters wishing to vote for a candidate, to declare a party affiliation weeks before the election.

Opponents say election officials already have their hands full.

Rick Watson, President of the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities, said, “People are constantly moving from one house to another from one county to another across states and across the country and this will just add one more layer of expensive and unnecessary expense.”

The house elections and elected officials committee also heard from state Representative John Simmons who wants to change the initiative petition requirement to change the state constitution.

HJR 102 would require more signatures from across all areas of the state.

And the threshold for passage would change from a majority to two-thirds of the vote.

He cited a study by the National Council of State Legislatures.

State Rep. John Simmons, (R-Washington), said, “The task force concluded that the initiative process has evolved from its early days as a grassroots tool which it was originally as a grassroots tool to enhance representative democracy into a tool, here’s the key, into a tool that too often is exploited by special interests.”

Opponents believe the proposal would reduce the chances of success for ballot initiatives.

Ed Smith, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, said, “This is another step in making it harder for the public to engage in policy making processes that impact their lives by making it more and more expensive to get on the ballot and change the constitution.”

One other piece of proposed legislation heard before the committee included a bill that would eliminate the crime of taking a photo of your ballot.

The bill’s sponsor says the law was created before the selfie became popular.

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