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18 July 2011

Stouffer: Presidential Preference in Missouri

A move to change the date of Missouri’s presidential primary is the latest victim of the veto pen.

In vetoing Senate Bill 282, the governor has refused to switch the date of the state’s presidential primary from February to March. This change is not important to the daily lives of Missourians, but will have some impact on next year’s presidential election. Both parties’ national committees have agreed to new rules for 2012, and SB 282 would have put Missouri in compliance with these new guidelines. Now that the measure will not be allowed to become law, our state’s delegates to both national conventions will be docked. This means the major candidates may have decide to pass on campaigning in Missouri.

Vetoing this bill disrupts the process of nominating candidates. Unfortunately, the governor’s failure to lead on this issue could cost our influence in next year’s important election. Senate Bill 282 was heard in committee early on during session and was debated on the Senate floor on more than one occasion. It did not “slip through the cracks” or receive a vote in the middle of the night. There was nothing secret about the provisions of this bill. Until the legislation was vetoed, we were unaware of any concerns.

Not moving the primary will mean folks in Missouri will not have the same influence in selecting the next president as folks will have in every other state in the Union.

The governor, citing his reason for vetoing this bill, claims that calling for a special election — in the event of a vacancy of a statewide elected office — would cost money. In the bill, the governor was given the ability to set the date of a special election, which means it could be held at the same time as an election date that has already been established — which would save money.

Lawmakers have the ability to override this veto and others during its annual veto session in September. It is disappointing this legislation could not have been perfected with timely input from all interested parties during the regular session. I pray the Legislature can work to undo this, and save our presidential primary.

For a full list of bills that have signed or vetoed by the governor, please click here.

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