Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Contact: Spence Jackson, (573) 751-4951

Blunt Pleased With Nixon Announcement on Early Voting

JEFFERSON CITY - Secretary of State Matt Blunt said he was pleased with Attorney General Jay Nixon's announcement today that he would not issue an opinion on the City of St. Louis' proposal to implement early voting for voters in the City of St. Louis.

"I am pleased that the attorney general has not offered his support to St. Louis City's attempt to implement a poorly conceived early voting plan based on an incorrect interpretation of state law. The law is clear and it does not allow one jurisdiction to provide voting opportunities that are denied to the rest of the state."

Blunt has been a strong and vocal advocate of early voting since he took office in January 2001. His recommendations for reform to the General Assembly, which were prompted in part by the fraud and voter disenfranchisement that took place in St. Louis City in the November 2000 general election, contained provisions that have made the ballot more accessible to registered voters than it has ever been in state history.

Blunt's recommendation to implement early voting statewide was removed by Democrat opponents of this reform measure from the final bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by a split-party controlled General Assembly and enacted into law by Gov. Bob Holden. When Missouri lawmakers approved Blunt's reforms to state election laws, several Missouri newspapers reported on the changes made to the early voting provision.

           Here is what a few Missouri reporters said about the 2002 state election reform bill.

"...early voting failed to make the final cut. As its name indicates, early voting would have allowed for ballots to be cast in advance of Election Day. The bill would require county clerks to submit early voting plans, including their costs, to the secretary of state. Blunt said the information would serve as the basis for future early voting information." Marc Powers, the Southeast Missourian, May 17, 2002.

"Earlier versions of the bill would have authorized early voting, allowing voters to cast ballots up to 14 days before the election. But opponents balked at the cost, so the bill now would require that election authorities 'establish a plan to implement an advance voting period.'" Bill Bell, Jr., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 2002.

"The final version of the bill also weakened an earlier voting proposal offering 14 days of advance voting in presidential elections. The bill now requires only that counties devise plans for offering advance voting beginning in 2004." Paul Sloca, the Associated Press, taken from the Jefferson City News-Tribune, May 16, 2002.

On March 17, 2004, Rep. Russ Carnahan introduced HB 1685 which sought to implement early or voting "absentee in person." Carnahan's bill would have authorized early voting in every jurisdiction in Missouri but never made it out of the House Elections Committee.