Concerned Citizens Gather for Voting Rights Day at the Capitol to Express Support for ‘One Person, One Vote’ and the Right to Vote for all Missourians
At least 150 Missourians from across the state and political spectrum rallied in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday as part of Missouri Voting Rights Lobby Day. They sent a message to politicians regarding proposed changes to the initiative petition process: Don’t end majority rule in Missouri.
Advocates gathered for the non-partisan Missouri Voting Rights Lobby Day, organized by the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, to urge lawmakers to reject efforts to undermine Missouir’s citizen initiative process.
Nimrod Chapel, President of the Missouri State Conference NAACP, said attempts to modify the initiative petition process are “an attempt to end majority rule and dismantle the democratic process” — and are “an effort to circumvent the will of voters.”
Politicians have filed dozens of measures this legislative session attempting to amend the state constitution to permanently end majority rule in Missouri. Lobby Day comes less than 24 hours after lawmakers held hearings on a dozen such measures. Following a rally in the rotunda, participants visited with their legislators and packed the Senate floor to demand that they protect the initiative petition process.
“Majority rule – meaning a simple majority of voters is needed to pass a ballot initiative – has been the law in Missouri for more than 100 years,” said Marilyn McLeod, President of the League of Women Voters of Missouri. “These attempts from politicians to change the ballot process restricts our freedom and takes away our rights. Although the word ‘majority’ is used here, the proposal for a concurrent majority means that effectively the minority would rule. Altering the ‘one person, one vote’ tradition will be harmful to the rights each citizen has to have equal standing with every other citizen. Keeping a simple majority as it’s been for more than 100 years is just common sense.”
“These politicians are the ‘snake oil salesmen’ of old Westerns. Don’t buy it. They are ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing,’” said Jim Kabell, former President of the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Teamsters. “They know you support majority rule, so they’re trying to hoodwink voters into giving their rights away. We are not going to let them get away with that.”
Opposition to radical plans from politicians to end majority rule in Missouri is strong, bipartisan and broad; just last week, opposition from outraged citizens outpaced testimony from paid lobbyists trying to end direct democracy by a 75:1 ratio.
“These bills all attack democracy in different ways, but they all share one key element: They end majority rule in Missouri and make it harder for Missourians to decide critical questions for themselves,” said Denise Lieberman, Director and General Counsel at the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “If an issue needs 60% or more in some convoluted formula to pass, what that really means is that a small number of people can overrule the majority of citizens on any issue. That’s just wrong”
In addition to highlighting threats to majority rule, speakers discussed legislation providing needed protection to Missouri’s dedicated election workers; and to advance legislation restoring voting rights to those on probation and parole after they have served their time.