The Voter Protection Act

Inspired, in part, by the repeal of Proposition B (not to mention the modification and/or repeal of several other voter initiatives), the Voter Protection Act would modify the state Constitution to require a three-fourths majority vote to modify a citizen initiative.

Missouri is one of only ten states where the legislature can turn around and modify or even complete gut a voter initiative. And, as we saw in the recent legislative session, far too many of our elected officials are more interested in placating special interests than in actually implementing the will of the people.

The Secretary of State has vetted the language of the bill, which means the next step is gathering signatures. If you’re interested in helping, you can volunteer at the Voter Protection Alliance web site.

Critters Legal, Laws, and Regs Voting

This fight is not over

I see that Missouri Farmers Care has moved on from fighting for the puppy mills and is now fighting for genetically modified foods. I expect next we’ll see an article about the healthful benefits of CAFO manure lagoons.

Governor Nixon signed SB 161. That’s all that’s happened. He signed a bill that gutted Proposition B. Oh, a few token provisions have been left, but you and I know that the breeders will find their way around these new provisions. I do not expect to see much change in the large scale commercial dog breeding operations in this state.

I remember, either from an article or during the House or Senate debates, someone asking one of the SB 113/SB 161 folks, “Were the breeders asked about the new SB 161 provisions, and if so, were they happy with them? Did they agree with them?” How very nice for agribusiness in Missouri that they have the final say on regulations impacting on them. Most businesses just have to accept what comes their way, but not agribusiness. Not in Missouri.

Regardless of the hypocrisy, and the total disregard for the voters—not to mention Nixon’s patronizing attitude about what we voters “meant” and how SB 161 is “good enough”—this fight is not over.

I imagine there might be legal challenges to the new law, especially the emergency provision. We also know there’s at least one ballot item being put forward for 2012 that will prevent such arrogant brushing aside of the voters wishes in the future. In the meantime, though, I am following my plan on exposing large scale commercial breeders to the world.

The breeders will never know if that person who contacts them about the puppies they’re selling online is a genuine buyer, or someone checking to see what excuse they give for not allowing the potential buyer to visit.

The FTC and the Missouri Attorney General work to protect consumers from deliberate misrepresentation and fraud. That cute little web site that states the breeder is a small family breeder with only a few dogs, better have exactly that, or they will find themselves at the end of an FTC and/or Missouri Attorney General complaint.

Starting the day after Proposition B would have gone into effect, every bad breeder that should be closed down, and would have been closed down under Proposition B’s more stringent guidelines will be exposed to the world—along with the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s laxity in enforcing true standards. With each publication, the names of the representatives, and Governor Nixon’s, will be included in the coverage—as a reminder of what they have enabled.

I also plan on spending a lot of time among the boxes of inspection records at the Department of Agriculture in Jefferson City. We’ll see exactly what that 1.1 million of extra money designated by Nixon buys us. It better buy us a lot, and not just fluff pieces on web sites.

I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to say, “Oh, well, we tried. Buck up, poochies”. This isn’t the end of the fight, it is only the beginning.



I and my roommate went to the polls at 5:30 this morning, and there was already a line of about 20 people or so. By the time the voting opened at 6am, the line was about 100-200 people in length, and there was no room for cars. In fact, I can definitely say that voting at the Cure of Ars is going to be a problem today, and not just because the street to the place, Laclede Station Rd, will be closed from 10-1.

But, I’m done. I was prepared, though thankfully I brought all my various IDs today, because I was mistaken on what was acceptable. Actually, my bad, but I had a backup. I also thought I picked paper voting, but had the computer slip, which ended up being the longer line. Again, my bad, as I checked the wrong box. It was 6am.

This was my first time using the computer, and it was actually quite nice—created a paper trail that you could check as you voted. These machines are taking over, eventually we’re going to have to start trusting them. Besides, I had the computer slip, not the paper slip. Mustn’t screw with the slips. Democracy as we know it will fall if we screw around with the slips.

But I’m done. Done. Done. Done.

Now comes the waiting.

I miss the mechanical voting booths, where you pulled a lever and it closed a curtain. You flipped switches next to names, and when you were done, pulled another level that tallied your vote and opened the curtain.

Once that curtain was closed, the rest of the world was shut out. It was just you, the machine, the switches, and your vote. When you voted at one of these machines, you felt like you were participating in a ritual, not a pop quiz. There was something very satisfying at that moment when you pulled the lever the second time, and heard all the mechanical switching going on behind you, as the curtain swooshed open, readying the box for the next participant.

Now, you push a confirm button, and screen goes blue (an ominous color), and that’s it—move your butt, let someone else in.

And I didn’t even get an “I voted” sticker.


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.