| Hannah Falcon ∙ ABC17NEWS |

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ) — The way Missourians vote for state offices could change if the Better Elections Amendment passes.

The Better Elections Amendment proposes several changes to Missouri’s state elections, including ranked-choice voting and election security. If passed, primary elections for state officials would no longer be split by party and the top four candidates would go on to the general election regardless of political affiliation.

Data has shown us that where ranked-choice voting is used and instant runoffs, it's extremely popular

The amendment also requires electronic voting machines to be tested and certified before every election, a paper trail of every voter and representatives of all parties to be present for voting.

Scott Charton, spokesperson for the Better Elections Amendment, said the ranked-choice voting system empowers voters by giving them more options, which in turn forces politicians to be issue-focused instead of attacking each other.

“[Politicians] actually have to focus on issues that voters care about as opposed to some negative, nasty campaign attack,” Charton said.

Ranked-choice voting has been implemented in several other states, including Alaska and Maine. Charton said those states have seen great success with the system.

“Data has shown us that where ranked-choice voting is used and instant runoffs, it’s extremely popular,” Charton said. “It empowers the voters, but it also is an incentive for fresh faces to get in.”

The amendment would change state elections, but county and municipal elections would be untouched. Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon said that would mean voters would need two different ballots for the state and local elections.

“Any kind of change to the way that votes are tabulated, if it’s a ranked-choice voting system, has an impact on the administration of the election from the standpoint of actually adding the votes together,” Lennon said.

If the Better Elections Amendment passes, Lennon said her office would need to put out some voter education on how the new system works.

“Any kind of change like this is going to mean that voters need to know what to expect when they go to their polling place in August,” Lennon said. “So, if a reform like this were to pass my biggest priority would be making sure people understand what it means and know what they’re looking at when they’re looking at their ballot and how they are supposed to cast a ballot.”

To pass the Better Elections Amendment, organizers need to gather around 170,000 signatures from Missourians in every congressional district in the state.

“We’re out every day gathering signatures in Missouri, even on rainy days like this,” Charton said.

If organizers get all the required signatures by the May 8 deadline, the Better Elections Initiative will go on the November ballot for Missourians to vote on. If passed, the changes will go into effect in time for the 2024 elections.

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