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Ball Rolling on Campaign Finance, Election Reform

November 15, 2001
By: Nicholas Rummell
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri Senate held its fourth committee to reform election law and campaign finance, but the question remains: is the ball rolling on the two topics that have been deemed a priority by several top state officials?

"People want it to roll," said Sen. Anita Yeckel, chairman of the interim committee, "but it will not be an easy legislative session."

Yeckel, who wants both House and Senate elections committees to discuss the issue, said that progress has indeed been made and the committee is in the consensus building stage right now.

"We should be able to get a bill out [this session] that makes people feel better about their vote," she said.

During the last legislative session, the election law reform bill was killed, but various lawmakers in Missouri have made voter apathy and election fraud increasingly important issues.

Rep. Beth Long, a Republican who sits on the House Elections committee, suggested that the use of sample ballots before an election would improve voter turnout, a sentiment echoed by other witnesses who testified before the Senate committee.

While Long also stated that filing fees for absentee ballots could be raised, members of the Missouri Green and Libertarian political parties, as well as student voting group representatives, voiced opposition to this, and said that it would act as a deterrent to voting.

The implementation of instant runoff voting -- a program that allows voters to pick their first, second and third choice for candidate -- was also proposed by several witnesses.