South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Missouri House puts questions of ranked-choice, non-citizen voting on the 2024 ballot

Missouri+House+puts+questions+of+ranked-choice%2C+non-citizen+voting+on+the+2024+ballot

Arguments over the validity of banning non-citizen voting in Missouri, which is already illegal, were part of what ultimately killed an initiative petition bill prioritized by Republicans this session.

But in the final hours of the legislative session on Friday, the House approved a non-citizen voting provision as part of a Senate bill which will put a question before Missouri voters seeking to ban ranked-choice voting, or ranking candidates in order of preference.

“Missourians don’t want more voter confusion and exhaustion when they go to the ballot box than they already have,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Ben Baker, a Neosho Republican.

If approved by voters later this year, Missouri will officially ban ranked-choice voting and non-citizen voting. It would also confirm that elections only be carried out by paper ballot or “any mechanical method prescribed by law.”

The ranked-choice voting language has a carve-out for any “nonpartisan municipal election” that already has a ranked-choice ordinance in place. This applies to St. Louis.

An initiative petition campaign in 2022 sought to amend Missouri’s Constitution to change the voting process for the general elections for state offices. In the primary, voters would have still only been able to cast one vote, but in the general election, they could list their preferences. The candidate to win the majority of first-choice votes would win. But if no candidate received a majority, the candidate with the fewest top-choice votes would be eliminated; the remaining votes would be distributed among the candidates left based on preferences. Whoever received a majority of those votes would win.

That proposal failed to gather enough signatures to go to the voters.

The bill passed on Friday down party lines 97 to 43, with state Rep. Raychel Proudie, a Democrat from Ferguson, and state. Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, a Democrat from St. Louis, voting present.

“This is wholly unnecessary,” state Rep. Eric Woods, a Democrat from Kansas City, said Friday of the bill.

That was the resounding cry from Senate Democrats earlier this week, as they filibustered for 50 hours in a successful attempt to stop a plan by Republicans to put a ballot measure before voters in the fall that would raise the threshold for amending the constitution by citizen-led initiative petitions.

Democrats refused to let the initiative petition bill pass through the Senate as long as it included “ballot candy.” These provisions meant to entice voters into supporting the measure included a question about non-citizen voting and foreign interference.

Despite the hours spent this session debating the merits of the non-citizen language in the initiative petition bill, the topic didn’t immediately come up on the House floor Friday.

Toward the end of debate, state Rep. Brad Banderman, a Republican from St. Clair, noted the “robust conversation” in both chambers over non-citizen voting the past couple of years, escalating in the final weeks of session.

“It seems like we’ve been wringing our hands for about a week or two on this particular issue, but on this day,” Banderman said. “ … The other side of the aisle doesn’t seem to be standing at mics complaining

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jason Hancock for questions: info@missouriindependent.com. Follow Missouri Independent on Facebook and Twitter.