A Missouri proposal to create one of the most expansive early voting periods in the nation appears to have fallen short of reaching the November ballot, according to an Associated Press analysis of initiative petition signatures.
The AP review of signature counts conducted by Missouri’s local election authorities found that the proposed constitutional amendment on early voting lacks enough valid signatures of registered voters in all but two of the state’s eight congressional districts.
To qualify for the ballot, initiatives must get signatures equal 8 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in at least six of the congressional districts.
Missouri currently allows absentee voting only in limited circumstances when people attest that they won’t be able to vote in person on Election Day. The initiative proposed a 42-day, no-excuse-needed early voting period that would have been one of the longest in the nation and also would have allowed votes to be cast on weekends.
If the early voting measure misses the ballot, it would mark a significant setback for Democratic-aligned groups that had spent about $700,000 on the initiative petition drive in hopes that the early voting period would win approval this year and be in place for the 2016 presidential and gubernatorial elections.
The AP analysis shows that a separate proposed constitutional amendment did appear to get enough valid signatures. That measure would limit teacher tenure protections and require public schools to make personnel decisions based largely on student performance data.
Secretary of State Jason Kander has until next Tuesday to officially certify — or reject — initiatives to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Those documents show that the early voting measure got well more than the needed signatures in Missouri’s two Democratic-leaning regions, the 1st District in St. Louis and the 5th District that extends eastward from Kansas City.
But the AP analysis shows that the initiative appears to be more than 1,300 signatures short in the 4th District, which includes Columbia and parts of west-central Missouri; more than 2,200 short in the 2nd District in suburban St. Louis; more than 2,600 short in southwest Missouri’s 7th District; and more than 5,800 short in northern Missouri’s 6th District. The petition drive did not aggressively target the state’s 3rd and 8th Congressional Districts.