OPINION: Initiative petition ‘ballot candy’ designed to deceive voters

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Democratic majority rule by voters will be a dead issue

By DEB LAVENDER
Mo. State Representative
D-98th District

Legislation proposing changes to citizen-led initiative petitions in Missouri is again at the top of the agenda for Republicans in both the House and the Senate.

Since 1846, Missouri has enjoyed the opportunity for citizens to participate in self-rule. After filing a petition with the Secretary of State, collecting a minimum number of signatures, and placing an issue onto the ballot, citizens of Missouri, by a simple majority, have passed over 130 measures, with 31 petitions failing.

DRASTIC CHANGES
Proposed changes to our initiative petition would require voter approval in most legislative districts in addition to the statewide popular vote.

One plan under consideration would require a majority vote in five of Missouri’s eight congressional districts; the other proposal would require a majority vote in 82 of 163 Missouri House districts.

This would mean a majority of voters across our state could pass a ballot measure, but because it did not pass in 82 house districts, the overall vote total would not matter, and the proposal would fail. These bills (HJR 72, HJR 102, HB 1749) would be the end of majority rule, ending “one person, one vote.”

The proposed legislation will only become law if it passes by the same standards currently in place. If approved by voters, the changes would take effect 30 days after approval.

‘BALLOT CANDY’ TO DECEIVE
The more difficult thresholds are being pushed by Missouri Republicans who have openly said they do not want an initiative for reproductive rights (currently accepting signatures) to pass in our state.

“Ballot candy” politicians often employ ballot candy to try and deceive voters on issues that are on the general ballot. They do so by listing statements that grab your attention in combination with the issue they are trying to get passed. The issue they want, may not pass on its own initiative, when presented to voters.

(The) goal is to make it harder for constitutional amendments to be passed through initiative petitions. Three pieces of ballot candy (positioned first on the explanation) are added to this in order to increase its possibility of being passed by voters.

The ballot candy hooks your attention and distracts from the real issue of this initiative. This is the language being debated in Missouri’s Senate to make it harder to pass initiative petitions, and you might be so in favor of the first three that you don’t even read the fourth.

Under… proposed language, if this language passes a vote of the people, as few as one in five voters could defeat future initiative petitions in Missouri.

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