Missouri legislators approve numerous changes to elections

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri legislators approved numerous changes Thursday to local elections, including allowing voters to request absentee ballots by email.

The omnibus measure won final approval in the Senate, 24-7, more than a week after the House passed it 139-6. The measure would also potentially reduce the amount of time candidates would have to get their names on ballots during special elections.

Senate leaders haven’t decided when to send the measure to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who hasn’t indicated if he’ll sign it.

In a press release, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft praised the bill and said a provision that changes reimbursement deadlines would potentially reduce the amount of time local election officials would have to wait for money they were owed by the state.

Rep. Tracy McCreery, a St. Louis Democrat, voted against the bill because she was concerned that only giving candidates three weeks to collect signatures to qualify for a special election could discourage independent candidates from running. Currently, someone must file for candidacy just by the midway point between when a special election is called and when voting begins, a window which can last more than three weeks.

“Think about if someone was running for state Senate or wanted to run statewide, it would be nearly impossible to get the number of signatures needed in 21 days,” she said.

To run for statewide office as an independent, candidates need at least 10,000 signatures from registered voters.

Photo Gallery