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Voting reform efforts are underway in Missouri

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A woman places a ballot into a voting machine that sits inside an "I Voted" wrap-around box.
Jodi Fortino
/
KCUR 89.3
A voter places a ballot into a machine during the Oct. 13, 2020 election in Kansas City.

Organizers have until May 8 to put ranked-choice voting on Missouri’s November ballot.

A bi-partisan group is gathering petition signatures in Missouri in an effort to change the way voters select candidates in state and federal elections.

If supporters gather the 160,000 signatures needed, the Missouri Top-Four Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative would appear on the ballot in Missouri as a constitutional amendment on Nov. 8, 2022. If passed, Missouri residents would use ranked choice voting in the 2024 election.

In ranked choice voting, the four candidates on any ballot who receive the most votes would advance to an instant run-off.

Under the initiative, all candidates would appear on the same primary ballot open to all voters regardless of their party affiliation. The four candidates who receive the most votes in the primary would advance to a ranked-choice voting general election.

Supporters say ranked voting reduces partisanship in elections, gives voters more choices, and encourages candidates to appeal to all voters, instead of relying on their party base.

"If you have more choices, it's good in every part of life, we need that in politics," said Scott Charton, BetterElections Missouri spokesman. "More choices, more candidates. People are excited about the idea of a set of rules that won't have a rigged system and a party primary that favors only those who support a narrow viewpoint or an extreme viewpoint."

Critics, such as the Missouri Republican Party, say the system is confusing and “eliminates the fair and honest voting method of one person — one vote.”

Maine and Alaska have passed policies similar to the Missouri proposal. Ranked choice voting is also used in more than 20 American municipalities.

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