JEFFERSON CITY • The man who oversees elections in Missouri says the state needs to overhaul the process that allows citizens to place constitutional questions on the ballot.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft told a panel of lawmakers Monday that the initiative petition process has become dominated by special interest groups who flood his office with proposed ballot questions, ranging from legalizing marijuana to making Missouri a right to work state.
Under Missouri’s constitution, citizens can place questions on the ballot that can amend the constitution or a state statute.
In the current election cycle, for example, he said 350 proposed petitions have been filed by 28 individuals, including one that is 47 pages long.
Among his suggestions is to impose a $500 fee to file a proposed ballot question, which could be refunded if the measure garners enough signatures to make it on the ballot.
“We want people to think before they frivolously file these things,” Ashcroft told members of the House Budget Committee.
Ashcroft also is concerned about the cost of the process. If the 47 page petition receives enough signatures to get on the ballot, the state is required to publish the language in newspapers across the state.
Ashcroft said that could cost as much as $3.5 million.
“We need to find a way to make it not so