‘Longest ballot in history’ awaits voters; early voting sites expand

By Gloria Lloyd
News Editor
glorialloyd@callnewspapers.com

Voters casting ballots Nov. 6 will have to contend with the longest ballot in memory, with more than 50 issues and candidates to consider.

Election officials are urging voters to show up early at one of three satellite voting centers opening Oct. 29, including one at the South County Government Center.

Officials timing absentee voters found it  takes a prepared voter eight minutes to fill out a ballot, but an unprepared voter can take up to 30 minutes. That could cause long lines on Election Day.

Federal races will headline the ballot, including the U.S. Senate race in which incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Kirkwood, is trying to fend off a Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley.

That marquee race also features Libertarian Japheth Campbell, Jo Crain of the Green Party and independent candidate Craig O’Dear.

Elsewhere in Congress, U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, is vying for a fourth term versus Clayton attorney Cort VanOstran, a Democrat. She also faces Larry A. Kirk, Libertarian, and David Justus Arnold of the Green Party.

The statewide races are led by the state auditor matchup, in which Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway faces off against Republican Saundra McDowell.

Every Missouri House seat is up for election, with several competitive local races.

A slate of Missouri Constitutional amendments awaits voters in the ballot booth, starting with Amendment 1, or Clean Missouri.

Amendments 2 and 3 would both legalize medical marijuana, but 2’s focus would be more patient-centered with money raised from taxes on marijuana going to veterans, while 3 is funded by a physician who would lead a research institute if it passes.

Amendment 4 was placed on the ballot by the Legislature to make changes in how nonprofit organizations can hold bingo games.

As for ballot measures, Prop B would increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. Prop C would also legalize medical marijuana. Prop D is a 10-cent gas tax.

In St. Louis County, the county executive contest offers four choices. Democratic incumbent Steve Stenger faces Republican Paul Berry III, Libertarian Nick Kasoff and Constitutionalist Andrew Ostrowski.

Wesley Bell is unopposed for county prosecuting attorney after defeating incumbent Robert McCulloch in the Democratic primary in August.

The county assessor position is up for election for another four-year term. Republican Dan Hyatt is challenging incumbent Assessor Jake Zimmerman, a Democrat who is trying for a third term in office and Libertarian Jeff Coleman. Zimmerman is the only elected assessor in county history and has held the elected position since it was first implemented in April 2011.

The only active County Council race in south county is in the 3rd District, where longtime Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Huntleigh, is stepping down. Running to replace her are former St. Louis County police Chief Tim Fitch, a Fenton Republican, and former Kirkwood City Councilman Paul Ward, a Democrat.

But there are numerous county Charter amendments for voters to consider. Prop 1 would create campaign-finance limits, Prop 2 would ban the sale of county parks unless voters approve, Prop B would regulate budgetary transfers, Prop C would require the publication of financial documents online and Prop D asks whether a Charter Commission should be convened.

Prop E was a countywide indoor smoking ban that was thrown off the ballot, and Prop F is a casino-backed smoking ban on 50 percent of casino floors.

Finally, voters will get to Proposition Z, a proposed countywide sales tax for the St. Louis Zoo to open up a satellite conservation facility in north county. Voters will also have an array of judges to consider.

Lastly, voters in Crestwood and Sunset Hills will arrive at two ballot items that may come last but are important to residents of both cities.

Three candidates are running in a special election for Crestwood mayor to fill the remainder of former Mayor Gregg Roby’s term, which expires in April 2020.

And the half of Sunset Hills that is covered by the Fenton Fire Protection District will consider a tax increase for the third time in two years and the second time this year.