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Missouri fails to enact presidential primary while Kansas moves ahead

The Missouri House voted down a bill Monday that would reinstate the primary while in Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill to reinstate the primary in the Sunflower State.

The Missouri bill was amended to establish that the primary will take place on “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April.” As introduced, the bill would have ordered the primary to be held on “the second Tuesday after the first Monday in March.” It was approved last week on a voice vote but failed during roll call.

Missouri Democrat Party Chair Russ Carnahan and Missouri Republican Party Chair Nick Myers found rare unity in testifying together in the bill’s support.

“I think the primaries are popular and, frankly, caucuses exclude a lot of people from being able to participate,” Carnahan said after the bill failed. “If we want more trust and engagement with our democratic institutions … presidential primaries are a way to do that.”

The Kansas primary may increase voter turnout for both parties and elevate the state in national politics. Detractors say voters could be confused after dealing with a caucus system for decades.  The cost is estimated at between $4 and $5 million and will be held on March 19, 2024.  Candidates will pay a $10,o00 filing fee or submit the names of 5,000 registered voters to be considered eligible.

Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab voiced support of the bill but asked for the state to assist with funding the local expenses of holding a primary.

“Enactment of the presidential preference primary bill signifies the trust party leaders have in the integrity of Kansas elections,” Schwab said. “We are asking the Legislature to fully fund this measure. Our county election offices will be ready to conduct a fair and secure election.”

Missouri’s bill goes further including keeping regulations on election signs, literature or polls 25 feet away from “the building’s outer door closest to the polling place.”

Representatives also discussed what type of IDs are valid to present at the polls. Last year, the legislature changed voting laws to require that voters present a valid government ID card with a photo and an expiration date to vote. Rep. Barbara Phifer, D-St. Louis, said expired driver’s licenses should be allowed, because otherwise they are penalizing people who have a difficulty getting to the DMV or do not drive anymore. Rep. Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway, R-Festus, the bill’s sponsor, said she wanted to give “voices back to voters.”

No changes to the voter ID requirements were adopted.

Missouri may try to bring the bill up again before the session ends at the end of May.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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