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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Watchdog Group Questions Integrity of Missouri's Ballot Initiative Process

Posted By on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Before heading to the primary polls today to vote on Prop C and the Blunt-Carnahan senate seat, you probably ought to peruse the 2010 "Report Card" from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.

In their annual report, the Washington D.C.-based think tank assigned letter grades for the 24 states that allow for ballot initiatives or referendums. The Show-Me State got slapped with a D grade for what the group believes is a lack of transparency and oversight in our voter-driven campaigns.

The lowlights include:
  • The state does not require signatures prior to circulating a ballot initiative, leaving the door wide open for "frivolous filings."
  • Petition circulating companies and subcontractors are not required to register with the state and circulators who have been convicted of fraud and forgery are not prohibited from participating in the ballot initiative process.
  • Circulation companies are allowed to pay signature gatherers solely by the number of signatures they collect. Also, there are no penalties for violating wage and hour requirements for signature gatherers.
  • There are no penalties for campaign committees that "knowingly encourage" the violation of state signature gathering laws.
Then again, only five of the 24 states reviewed had systems protective enough to receive a C or better, and only one state (Colorado) earned a score higher than B so we're just about par for the course nationwide.

Here's a link to the .pdf of the entire report. Missouri's entry is on page 37.

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