The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 9, 2014

Susan Redden: Secretary of state pushing for OK for early voting

JOPLIN, Mo. — Secretary of State Jason Kander said last week he still is hopeful that the Missouri General Assembly will consider changes in state election law that he believes would make it easier for residents to make their choices at election time.

Kander for the past two sessions has lobbied for passage of measures based on recommendations from a bipartisan election commission he named soon after taking office as the state’s chief election official.

Among other things, the commission recommended that the state enact an advance, or early voting, system and no-excuse absentee balloting by mail, to provide more opportunities for voters who may not be able to make it to the polls.

Kander, a Democrat, said the measure he favors has bipartisan support and is sponsored by Rep. Myron Neth, a Republican from Liberty who is vice chairman of the House Elections Committee.

Kander said that if an early voting measure could get to a vote, he believes it would pass.

“Thirty-five states have this law in some form,” he said.

Several measures allowing early voting have been introduced this session. None have made significant progress. The only election measures that appear to have traction are those that would impose photo ID requirements.

Kander said his office has started a program allowing residents to register to vote online, to make it more convenient for people who otherwise would have to go to a courthouse or other election office.

Wednesday is the registration deadline, if residents have not already done so, for those who want to vote in April 8 elections that will decide local issues, and city council and school board races.

Kander made the comments Thursday during a stop in Joplin to highlight his office’s support of efforts to foster entrepreneurship and to grow Missouri.

He joined officials of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to tour the Joseph Newman Innovation Center, a chamber-sponsored business incubator at 407 S. Pennsylvania Ave.

He talked with workers at some of the nine businesses housed in the center and said later that he wants to support the state’s business efforts, particularly those that spawn Missouri-based entrepreneurs.

“If a company will move to Missouri for a tax credit, they’re probably going to be willing to move to another state for another incentive,” Kander said. “I’m not saying we should turn those businesses down, but I am saying that home-grown startups are less likely to leave.”

He said his office has launched efforts to make it more convenient and less expensive for businesses to file paperwork with his office. He said he also has started a business outreach effort to ensure that startup businesses are informed of the resources available to help them.

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Kander said his office recently created a program called “Startup for Soldiers” that waives filing fees for veterans who are registering a startup business in the state.

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