Missourians will be voting on only four ballot proposals in a few days. That’s about average for a general election. But the process to put them on the ballot is far from average.
Proposals changing the way major court judges are picked; a tobacco tax increase, limits on formation of health insurance exchanges, and giving St. Louis local control over its police department are on the ballot. These four issues are survivors.
When Robin Carnahan became Secretary of State, her staff reviewed 16 possible ballot proposals. This year, they reviewed 143. Carnahan says the petition system needs an overhaul. She and auditor Tom Schweich failed to get reforms through the legislature last year. One reform would require petitoners to gather 1,000 signatures before submitting their proposals for Secretary of State review.
She doubts groups will submit dozens of versions of the same issue if they have to get one-thousand signatures before submitting them for review. Carnahan says she doens’t know how many thousand hours her staff spent working on dozens of proposed petitions that were never circulated or petitions that hit the streets and failed to get enough support.