Several Ballot Questions Submitted to Secretary of State for Signature Verification

May 14, 2024

It’s possible that voters statewide will decide on several changes to the Missouri Constitution in November along with electing state officials. May 5th was the deadline for organizations to turn in signatures of registered voters that must be checked before placing their issues on the ballot.

Possible issues include a new casino near Lake of the Ozarks; a proposal to preserve abortion rights for women; legalized sports wagering; and increasing the minimum wage in Missouri state law to $15 an hour beginning in 2026.

To place an initiative petition on the ballot in Missouri, signatures must be collected that equal eight percent of the vote for Governor in 2020 in six of the eight Congressional districts of the state. About 171,600 signatures are required. They are turned in to the secretary of state’s office in Jefferson City and must be distributed throughout the state to local county clerks and election authorities who verify the signatures of local voters.

For any of the issues with enough certified signatures to be placed on the August ballot, work of county clerks and the secretary of state’s staff must be done by early June, which is unlikely, according to the secretary of state’s office.

More on the potential ballot issues, likely in November:

The Osage River Gaming & Convention Committee turned in more than 320,000 signatures. If approved by voters, a hotel, convention center, restaurants, and other attractions would be included in the project. The casino would be located along the Osage River between the Bagnell Dam and the Missouri River. The current limit on licensed casinos in Missouri is 13. If approved, another license would be extended to the Osage River casino.

Supporters of the abortion rights proposal turned in more than 380,000 signatures, which is more than twice the total needed to qualify for the statewide ballot. The coalition, Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, said the ballot measure would legalize abortion up to the point of “fetal viability.” Currently, nearly every abortion is illegal in Missouri except for medical emergencies.

340,000 petition signatures were delivered to the secretary of state’s office on May 2nd, by a coalition of Missouri professional sports franchises seeking to put legalization of sports gambling on the November ballot. The proposal would add sports wagering to the Missouri Constitution, if approved by voters, and includes granting licenses to professional sports teams, casinos, and online websites.

On May 1st, Missouri Jobs with Justice turned in about 210,000 signatures. Since the proposal to raise the minimum wage is a state statute change, not in the Constitution, at least 115,000 signatures must be valid. The ballot issue also includes a requirement that many workers get paid sick leave.

Another issue that voters may decide, likely in August if placed on the ballot by the Governor, is a proposal needing final state legislative approval before May 17th. This Constitutional amendment would raise the threshold to pass an amendment by the people. Instead of the statewide majority currently required, a proposal amending the Constitution would need a majority vote in five of the state’s eight Congressional districts to be approved.

One more issue, certain to be on the ballot this fall because the General Assembly approved it in 2023, is a state Constitutional amendment to allow places where persons, corporations, organizations, and associations provide childcare outside of a child’s home to be exempt from property tax, intended to make childcare more available.