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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Missouri legislature passes resolution barring ranked choice voting in elections

Voting booths on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, at the St. Louis Public Library in Carondelet.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Voting booths on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, at the St. Louis Public Library in Carondelet.

The Missouri legislature has passed a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would prohibit ranked choice voting in most of the state.

Members of the House voted 97-43 Friday to pass the resolution. It has already cleared the Senate and does not need the approval of Gov. Mike Parson.

The resolution states that under no circumstances “shall a voter be permitted to cast a ballot in a manner that results in the ranking of candidates for a particular office.”

The resolution has a carve-out for St. Louis, which implemented an approval voting system in 2020 for its municipal elections.

Through this system, voters can select as many candidates as they want in a primary. The top two candidates then go to a runoff election.

The proposed constitutional amendment would not affect St. Louis’ system.

Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho, sponsored the House version of the resolution. He said he was not in favor of the exception for St. Louis.

“I'm not OK with it, but this is where we're at with this language of what we can get done in the body. I think it's still a big step in the right direction,” Baker said.

In speaking against the resolution, Rep. Eric Woods, D-Kansas City, said it was unnecessary and not the way to reassure people about election results.

“There are other ways, other systems, other ideas that we can adopt to keep our democracy or our republic, whichever word you want to prefer to use, vibrant,” Woods said.

In addition to the ban on ranked choice voting, the resolution states that the candidate who receives the most votes in a political party primary will be the only candidate on the ballot for November for that party.

The resolution states that all elections will be by paper ballot or by “any mechanical method prescribed by law.”

Included within the proposed resolution is language stating that only U.S. citizens who are 18 or older, residents of Missouri and residents of the political subdivision they vote in are entitled to vote in elections. That language does not make any changes to existing law.

Similar language has been a point of contention all session, where it has been in the same conversation as an amendment that sought to make it harder to amend the constitution.

Democrats have stated all session this language was being added by Republicans to trick voters into approving it. Senate Democrats filibustered for about 50 hours, eventually killing those proposed constitutional changes.

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Sarah Kellogg is a first year graduate student at the University of Missouri studying public affairs reporting. She spent her undergraduate days as a radio/television major and reported for KBIA. In addition to reporting shifts, Sarah also hosted KBIA’s weekly education show Exam, was an afternoon newscaster and worked on the True/False podcast. Growing up, Sarah listened to episodes of Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! with her parents during long car rides. It’s safe to say she was destined to end up in public radio.