The Better Elections campaign submitted petition signatures on May 8 for a top-four ranked-choice voting initiative in Missouri. The campaign stated that more than 300,000 signatures were submitted. If enough signatures are verified, the measure will appear on the ballot in November for Missouri voters.
If implemented, this measure would change the electoral system for electing state executive, state legislative, and congressional officials starting Aug. 1, 2024. It would change the current partisan primary process to an open top-four primary, which is an election where all primary candidates are on the same ballot. For the general election, these top-four candidates would all appear on the ballot together. Voters would rank the four candidates rather than select only one candidate in the voting booth.
The Better Elections PAC is leading the initiative, which is also supported by the organizations Article IV and RepresentUs. Scott Charton, a spokesperson for the Better Elections PAC, stated that this measure “actually encourages more people to get involved in politics because it’s not as controlled by special interests and politicians”, and that “we’re giving voters more choices and more options.”
The Missouri Republican State Committee passed a resolution to oppose the ballot initiative. “[T]he proposed constitutional amendment to establish a ranked choice voting scheme effectively eliminates the fair and honest voting method of one person – one vote,” read the resolution.
Alaska is currently the only state to use a top-four primary for both state and congressional elections. California and Washington use top-two primaries, where the top two candidates who have received the most votes appear on the ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Alaska and Maine have implemented ranked-choice voting for certain state and congressional elections.
More than 300,000 signatures were collected for the initiative, according to the Better Elections PAC. The minimum requirement of verified signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Missouri is calculated by 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The smallest possible requirement is 171,592 signatures. Campaigns often aim to collect beyond the signature requirement to account for issues with some of the signatures submitted. Once these signatures are filed, they are sent to county election authorities to be verified.
In Missouri, 31 initiatives have appeared on the ballot from 1996 to 2020. Out of these 31 measures, 19 (59.4%) were approved while 13 (40.6%) were defeated.
Currently, there are three measures on the November 2022 ballot in Missouri, which are:
- Amendment 1, which would authorize the state treasurer to invest in highly rated municipal securities
- A Department of the National Guard Amendment, which would give the Missouri National Guard its own department
- A constitutional convention question, which asks voters whether to hold a state constitutional convention.