Voting in Missouri

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Missouri does not have early voting, so we’re expecting a busy day at the polls tomorrow. Make sure you’re all set with what you need to vote in Missouri, which is one of the identifications listed in this page. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office also provides a handy poll place and sample ballot lookup. The sample ballot is especially important to making sure you’re prepared to vote before you head to the polls.

You probably already know who you’re going to vote for when it comes to President and Governor and so on, but you may not be sure of how to vote when it comes to that long list of judges that always seem to fill up these ballots. The Missouri Bar Association puts out a list of judges by region and how well the judge did with surveys given to both lawyers and jurors. Based on the surveys the MoBar then gives a retain or not recommendation. For St. Louis County, most of the judges were highly rated. One was given a do not retain ranking, and a couple of others were given a more qualified retain recommendation. I ended up retaining all but three judges on my sample ballot.

Most of the ballot issues are not as straight forward as they seem, and it pays to put some time into reviewing what’s up for a vote. I’ve found that the national Ballotopedia to be a helpful place to start, though just searching on each measure or amendment brings up opposition and support arguments. As an example of a Ballotopedia page is one for Proposition A, which has to do with removing loss limits. The issue has been tied to school funding, but when you scratch the surface, you find that the issue is really being paid for by the existing casinos who want to encourage more people to lose money, while preventing other casinos from being built. At the same time, proponents point to the implication with Proposition A that schools will get more money. It’s an important ballot item, like all of the other ballot items, and you need to spend time with each.

For what it’s worth, my own voting recommendations are:

  • Vote No on Constitutional Amendment 1, about English being the ‘official language’ in government meetings. English is already the official language in Missouri. It’s a silly bill put out by those wanting to cater to the paranoid and the xenophobic.
  • Vote Yes on Constitutional Amendment 4, regarding how financing of storm water control projects are funded. This is a difficult to read bill, and I resorted to Google searches to find opinions on the bill. Eventually, the fact that this bill had such broad bipartisan support in the state senate won me over, though I still think about just letting this one slide on the ballot with a non-vote.
  • Vote No on Proposition A, to remove casino loss limits. Too often corporate interests tie political initiatives to school funding as a way of getting a controversial bill passed. Removing loss limits is only going to add to a growing gambling problem afflicting this state, as well as encourage people to lose too much in the heat of the moment. In addition, the Proposition also prohibits any new casinos, which I believe should be controlled by community planning boards, not the Casino Queen, the main sponsor of this bill. Both Republican and Democratic candidates for governor are against this bill, which demonstrates broad bipartisan opposition to the bill, because I don’t believe the two agree on anything else.
  • Vote No on Proposition B, on creating a new home care council. The concept is good, but the wording in the proposal is vague. What exactly are the powers attributed to this council? What will they do that isn’t handled by other agencies? I like the idea of a watch dog for in-home care professionals, but a badly done proposition isn’t going to help anyone.
  • Vote Yes on Proposition C, which would mandate that energy providers use clean energy sources, up to 15% over time. The organizations in favor of the bill are many, with Ameren being about the sole opposition to the bill. Ameren would prefer “market forces” dictate the use of clean energy. I would assume these are the same market forces that have kept our banks healthy. No, we can’t depend on business to do the right thing.
  • Within St. Louis county, my main interest is on Proposition M, which would provide Metro funding. Gas prices may be cheap now, but they’re not going to last. A forward thinking community is one that plans for, and supports, mass transit, including light rail. Some people are unhappy at the cost overruns the Shrewsbury line cost the tax payers, but punishing a facility that is good for the community for the past actions of people no longer associated with the facility, is penny wise, and pound foolish.
  • As regards to the other St. Louis County initiatives: I’m voting Yes on Proposition C , 1, I, and H. In fact, I’m voting Yes across the board for St. Louis county initiatives. Most of the issues are related to taxes, and include support for our wonderful parks, children services, and necessary capital improvements.

The voting threat

The greatest threat this country currently faces, are stories like the one found today in the New York Times. The headline reads, Voting Experts Say High Turnout May Add to Problems at the Polls, and it joins many others spreading doom and gloom about what to expect at the polls tomorrow.

I remember voting in elections where officials voiced how discouraged they were at how few people turned out. Now, we’re actually having an election, a real one, where most of the people who can vote, are voting. Except today, we’re inundated with stories about how long the lines will be; how badly the polls will be managed; how impossible the process.

If you’re a McCain supporter, you might think what’s the use? Your candidate is going to lose. If you’re an Obama supporter, you might think what’s the use? Obama is going to win. Yet, this election can be won, or lost, not by the people who show up at the polls, but by those who stay home.

Aside from this critical national election for President, you’ll be voting for other people and other offices, as well as important initiatives. In my state, several of the state and Congressional seats are under hot contention, and there are a couple of propositions that I support and that are at risk for failing. The same is most likely true for you.

If you’ve already voted early, thank you. If you haven’t though, and you’re tempted to just “skip” the election tomorrow because of all the election stories, think on this: you’ve probably stood in line longer for tickets to a favorite concert, to get into a hot sports game, or to buy that “it” gift for Christmas. You were definitely in line longer if you were one of the first to buy an iPhone. Bring that iPhone, loaded with games, a book, magazine, or newspaper—they do still print paper ones—that long report or story you’ve been wanting to find the time to read, and do the right thing. Think of tomorrow as a chance to get away from the computer and the hectic pace of your life, and to have a time to contemplate the meaning of the universe, ways to combat global warming…or that hot new guy you just met.

I’m not going to link the Hollywood videos about vote, don’t vote, because we really don’t need actors to tell us what we already know: the candidate you want may lose based on one vote; just think if that vote was yours?

Forget the polls and their percentages, forget the stories. Do the right thing tomorrow. Vote.


Tragedy and voting

Another big story in our area this weekend was the cold blooded shooting of a popular police officer, Michael King, in University City. A senseless killing, because he was in his marked car and the man who shot him just walked up and shot him, for no known reason. Incredibly sad, and difficult for the community because the officer was white, the alleged shooter is black, and this has led to some strongly racist comments associated with the story.

U City is only a couple of miles from where I live. As has happened with other official funerals there will be a police procession after the services, escorting the coffin to the cemetery. When these processions happen, the street where I live is closed off, which is fair and right. However, and I’m not sure anyone was thinking of this when they planned the funeral for tomorrow, that street is also the only way to get our local community’s polling place, the Cure of Ars Church.

This is one of the more popular polling places, especially in the middle of the day because of the number of retired people in the area. To close the street, and access to this polling place right in the middle of what is expected to be a record voter turn out…Well, this is not going to be a good thing.

I called the county election officials and they’re aware of the conflict. They’re not sure what to do, just yet. I believe though that by law, access to the polling place has to be kept open. I have a huge sympathy for the Officer’s family, but I have to wonder at the funeral home not being aware that this was going to cause a conflict, and recommend the funeral be held on Wednesday.