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Government, Politics & Issues

Ranked choice voting proposal likely not headed to Missourians in 2022

Voters wait in lines outside a St. Louis County polling site at the Ballwin Golf Course and Events Center on Election Day Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Theo R. Welling
/
Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Voters wait in lines outside a St. Louis County polling site at the Ballwin Golf Course and Events Center on Nov. 3, 2020.

Missourians will likely not get to decide the fate of a plan to implement ranked choice voting for certain elections.

The group pushing that constitutional amendment said on Thursday that an internal audit showed it didn’t have enough signatures for the plan to make it on the 2022 ballot. In order for a constitutional amendment to make it before voters, groups need to collect a certain number of signatures in six out of eight congressional districts.

“There may not be sufficient signatures under Missouri law to give voters a chance to say yes to the Better Elections Amendment,” Better Elections spokesman Scott Charton said. “The final counts from counties are still coming in, and we’re watching them closely.”

Charton said his group made this determination based on an internal analysis of the signatures. In years past, groups seeking to get a proposal on the ballot often had to sue the secretary of state’s office if that officeholder declared a ballot measure didn’t have enough signatures. (A spokesman for Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft did not return a request for comment.)

If the amendment would have passed, candidates for statewide, state legislative and congressional posts would have run in nonpartisan primaries. The top four would move onto the general election. Voters could then rank candidates from first to last. And candidates who get a majority of votes would be declared the winner.

If none of the candidates get a majority, the fourth- place contender would be eliminated. And voters who ranked that candidate first would have their vote go to their second choice. This process would continue until a candidate gets a majority of votes.

Since the beginning of 2022, Better Elections received several million dollars' worth of donations of $5,000 or more. A good chunk of that money came from a politically active nonprofit known as Article IV. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Article IV had ties to Laura and John Arnold.

Charton indicated that this was not the last Missourians had heard from advocates of ranked choice voting.

“We remain committed to our core mission: giving voters more choices in elections, empowering voters to hold politicians accountable when they lose their way and ensuring integrity in elections,” Charton said. “One need only look at the recent dysfunction and chaos of the Missouri legislature for evidence that things are off track. Missourians still want and deserve better elections — the positive changes we all deserve are only delayed, not denied.”

Missouri voters may still have to decide on at least one measure that emanated from an initiative petition drive: a bid to make marijuana legal in the state for adult use.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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