August 03, 2004

City of St. Louis suing to vote early & vote often for November

The city of St. Louis has filed a lawsuit that would allow voters a two-week period leading up to Election Day to cast a ballot.

The suit is driven by the fiasco that presented itself to voters in the Gateway City in 2000.

If successful, the lawsuit would create a two-week window before Election Day in which any Missouri voter could cast a ballot. This would differ from absentee balloting, which requires a voter to provide a reason for casting an early ballot.

If a judge sides with the city, early voting would work this way:

St. Louis and all counties in Missouri would set up at least one polling center where votes could be cast starting Oct. 19, fourteen days before Election Day.

That location, and up to four others, would be open on business days for those two weeks and, at the option of local officials, on weekends as well.

Early voting, in some form, exists in more than half of the states. It's sometimes called "No Excuses Absentee" because, like absentee voting, it is done before Election Day.

It would be incumbent upon poll workers (who in 2000 couldn't identify voters properly to begin with) to prevent voters from voting multiple times there.
The city's Election Board came under federal oversight after the 2000 election, in which voters were turned away from the polls because election workers could not verify their eligibility.

Missouri is again one of a handful of swing states that are expected to be key in deciding a close race. Slay is a co-chairman of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's national finance committee. Blunt, a Republican, is running for governor.

"This is about protecting people's access to the ballots," said U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., D-St. Louis. Clay joined the city as a plaintiff in the suit.

Also signed on as plaintiffs are Democrats Craig Hosmer, a former state representative from Springfield, Mo.; state Rep. Wes Shoemyer, of Clarence, Mo.; and Ernestine Hill, a committeewoman in St. Louis. The lawsuit was filed in Cole County Circuit Court.

They're probably all Kerry supporters, don't you think?

Posted by mhking at August 3, 2004 02:08 PM

We do early voting here in Texas and it is definitely not a negative thing. The polls are opened for limited hours for 1 week prior to the election. If you can make it one of those times, it saves you time and ensures that you have the chance to vote.

Posted by: King of Fools at August 3, 2004 03:32 PM

Maybe we should ask the UN what they think.

Posted by: Michael Gallaugher at August 3, 2004 04:25 PM

I don't see a partisan angle to this. If the poll-workers were unable to verify voters status then it probably ran across the board and Dems and Reps were out in the cold in proportion to their numbers.

Then again, if the problems exist more in St Louis than in the more rural areas of the State, getting more voters in -- regardless of their individual affilliation -- should be a plus for the Dems.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 3, 2004 06:12 PM

I seem to recall in 2000 that St. Louis and Philadelphia had the distinction of having more registered voters than citizens of voting age counted in the census.
Assuming this is still true for St. Louis, I could see why they would need a two week window to allow the dead and non-residents time to get to the polls.

Posted by: J_Crater at August 3, 2004 10:55 PM

if you don't see the partisan angle, you just don't get st louis politics. of course it's partisan. the city is mostly democratic, and that's where all the problems were in 2000.

Posted by: kd at August 4, 2004 01:07 AM

This has been common practice in parts of Iowa for many years. I am actually able to vote in the building where I work, 2-3 days before the election. A definite plus.
It may have partisan implications, but I find it a bit difficult to be opposed to any initiative that increases voter participation.

Posted by: wwhawkeye at August 4, 2004 08:51 AM
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