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Missouri State Activity on Election Reform

State Government --- Secretary of State
House Election Committee --- Senate Elections Committee
Early Voting issue --- Missouri page on Stateline.org

05/18/2001 Election Reform Legislation Fails in Waning Hours of Session (press release)

Secretary of State Matt Blunt's press release text:

JEFFERSON CITY - The clock ran out on responsible election reform in Missouri as legislators failed to reach a compromise that would have resulted in the first major update of the stateís election statutes since 1977. Legislative inaction has placed the integrity of future elections in Missouri in jeopardy, setting the stage for a Florida-style fiasco.

Thousands of Missourians were discouraged from voting by hours-long lines, and federal agents are investigating the charges of widespread fraud and voting irregularities in St. Louis. A special U.S. Senate Committee recently looked into the charges of fraud and irregularities that occurred in Florida and St. Louis on Election Day.

Secretary Blunt said: "I am disappointed that the General Assembly did not make responsible election reform a higher priority in the wake of the irregularities on Election Day in Florida and St. Louis. It is unconscionable to think that the woefully inadequate status quo will remain in light of all that our state has been through."

Early Voting and a revision that would require the Governor to select Election Board nominees from lists supplied by state political parties were among the more talked about reforms that will not be enacted.

Secretary Blunt concluded: "I will meet with the sponsors of the Senate bill and supporters in the House to discuss how to renew this effort next session. Some opponents of reform were able to take advantage of the clock and kill a good piece of legislation that had bipartisan support."

05/01/2001 Blunt Welcomes Senate Approval (press release)

Secretary of State Matt Blunt's press release applauds Senate passage of a comprehensive election reform bill (SCS 0476).

04/25/2001 "Election reform bills seem stalled in Missouri Legislature" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Despite ballot-counting problems in Florida and an election-fraud investigation in St. Louis, bills to revise Missouri's election process are languishing in the Legislature."

The House bill [HCS 247] is being help up by Speaker Jim Kreider "because of its price tag. One part of the bill would shift the costs of elections to the state from the counties and local election authorities."

"Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-Sunset Hills, is sponsoring the elections revision measure in the Senate. [SCS 0476] It won initial approval Tuesday. But with less than four weeks remaining in the session, final passage appeared doubtful."

04/12/2001 - I spoke with Spence Jackson, a spokesman for Secretary of State Matt Blunt, who told me that the senate bill made it to the floor and was discussed briefly, but was set aside until the senate reconvenes Tuesday, April 24th.

04/05/2001 - I spoke with Chuck Pryor, an assistant to Secretary of State Matt Blunt in the Elections Division, to get an update on the status of their election reform efforts. They have high hopes for SCS 0476, which will be going to the floor next week. This bill, sponsored by Anita Yeckel, who chairs the Senate Elections Committee, is a "complete package" of all Secretary Blunt's election reform recommendations (plus several other provisions), and will be the only election reform bill out of the committee. In the House, a similar bill, HCS 247, is being held up by Speaker Jim Kreider for reasons unknown.

The legislative session ends in May so if the bill does not pass, they will have to start over again next session, probably too late for signifigant reforms to take place by the 2002 elections.

On 04/10/2001 Secretary of State Matt Blunt's commission on election reform re-convenes at 1:30 pm at the State Information Center in Jefferson City, to discuss rules for the uniform counting of ballots in the state of Missouri. (press release)

03/28/2001 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch Endorses Blunt Recommendations (again)

(no link available)

03/05/2001 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch Endorses Blunt Recommendations

"The Missouri Legislature should give top priority to election reform proposals by Secretary of State Matt Blunt." ("Fraud and disenfranchisements")

01/31/2001 - Paul DeGregorio And Bob Ravenscraft Endorse Blunt Recommendations

"50 ways to leave the lever (and update the way we vote)" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"It is time for Missouri to make serious reforms to strengthen and improve the administration of elections. While the commission did not agree on every issue, it did recommend nearly 50 reforms. We commend Secretary of State Matt Blunt for appointing the commission on his very first day in office. We encourage all Missourians to contact their elected officials to support needed reforms. The time to act is now, not when another election controversy arises."

01/29/2001 - Blunt Releases Recommendations for Improvement to Election Laws

Missouri's new Secretary of State Matt Blunt has just released the recommendations (press release) (full report) of his bipartisan commission on election reform, which has been meeting this month and holding public hearings throughout the state.

"Bluntís recommendations include: Movement toward a Statewide, Uniform System as quickly as feasible; allowing for Early Voting and in light of the U.S. Supreme Courtís ruling in Bush v. Gore, pursuing Statewide Standards for Counting and Recounting ballots. Giving the Attorney General the authority to prosecute allegations of local election irregularity and fraud."

Furthermore, "Secretary Blunt has pledged to reconvene the commission in March to review the progress of the recommendations as they are deliberated in the House and Senate. In addition to the commission, Blunt has also decided to form a citizenís advisory panel to seek continued input from Missouri voters."

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, "Secretary of state outlines election reform plan" (01/30/2001), reports some local criticism by Kevin Coan, the Republican director of elections for the city of St. Louis, and especially by Judy Taylor, the Democratic director of elections for St. Louis County.

While I believe that Coan's and Taylor's concerns need to be addressed, I do believe that some sort of early or extended voting period is needed. I also believe that Blunt should be given credit for presenting an impressive list of worthwhile recommendations. I have called and asked my state senator and state representative to support these recommendations.

01/22/2001 - Blunt Commssion holds interactive field hearings

"As part of his commitment to using emerging technologies to make government more efficient and responsive to the people, Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt announced today that his bipartisan election reform commission would conduct interactive field hearings in eleven Missouri cities", according to the press release.

01/19/2001 - Email from Paul DeGregorio, co-chairman of the Blunt Commission:

CSPAN has put our St. Louis hearing on their web site. To find it, go to www.cspan.org once there, go to the search box (on the left); type in the word election then enter. The Blunt Commission hearing will come up. Then click on the word Watch and the hearing should play. Note: you will need realplayer or Windows Media Player to make this work. Also, a fast connection to the internet works best. You can fast forward through the hearing to find a particular witness by using the appropriate button on the player. A list of our speakers at the hearing were as follows:
(in order of presentation) 
1. Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO) 
2. former Congressman Jim Talent (R-MO) (Republican candidate for Governor Nov. 2001)
3. Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO)
4. K. Wenzein, President, League of Women Voters-St. Louis
5. Ida West, League of Women Voters
6. Joyce Guard, League of Women Voters
7. Tim Barnhart, Missouri Green Party
8. Daryl Piggee, Legal Counsel, Democratic Party 
9. State Representative Catherine Hanaway (R-St. Louis County) (Minority Leader)
10. State Senator Anita Yeckel (R-St. Louis County)
11. Thor Hearne (Attorney, Bush-Cheney Missouri)
12. Sandy Diamond (Kids Voting Missouri)
13. State Senator Paula Carter (D-St. Louis)
14. State Representative David Levin (R-St. Louis County)
15. Paul Matteucci, Commiteeman, St. Louis County
16. State Representative Kathyln Fares (R-St. Louis County)
17. Sharon Carpenter, Recorder of Deeds, St. Louis (D)
18. Jack Bruenner, Missouri Republican Assembly
19. David Adams, Citizen
20. Bob Baumann, Committeeman, St. Louis County
21. Deanna Heaumann, Election Judge
22. Mike Chance, Committeeman, St. Louis City
23. Bill Wallish, Committeeman, St. Louis County 

01/12/2001 - Blunt Commission field hearing, St. Louis

I attended and briefly testified before the commission, and submitted detailed written testimony.

The hearing was covered briefly in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch news article, "New secretary of state opens 2nd investigation into Election Day in city".

01/10/2001 press release announcing the hearing.

01/09/2001 - Election reform coming to Missouri?

Election reform is apparently a priority for Missouri's new Secretary of State, Republican Matt Blunt. "In First Full Day on the Job, Secretary of State Will Address Need for Full Public Confidence in Integrity of Missouri Elections", according to press releases (01/05/2001, 01/09/2001) announcing the appointment of a 22-member, bipartisan commission formed "to conduct a comprehensive review of our entire election code and provide me with their recommendations for steps to improve our laws and procedures."

I called Spence Jackson (573-690-6653) who told me that the study is expected to last all month, and that he will be posting updates on the Secretary's web site, and that the commission will be holding "field hearings" outside of Jefferson City. In fact, the first hearing will take place Friday, Jan. 12, at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. I plan to attend and report back.