Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to extend the two-term restriction that currently applies to the governor and treasurer to the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and the attorney general? State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal. A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to impose a two-term restriction on all statewide elected officials, which currently only applies to the governor and treasurer.
A “no” vote will leave the terms that statewide elected officials may serve unchanged.
— Amendment 1 ballot language
Term limits in general are popular, though how popular depends on the branch of government and the office under consideration. Governors are term limited in 36 of the 50 states, including Missouri. Amendment 1 on the Nov. 3 ballot would mean all six statewide elected officials would be limited to no more than two four-year terms in office.
The governor and treasurer are already subject to term limits of two four-year terms. The other officials are: lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and attorney general. All the statewide elected officials serve four-year terms, but the auditor is elected in even-numbered, nonpresidential election years, out of cycle with the other offices.
In the Globe’s recent unscientific online poll, 87% of readers who responded said they supported the measure. We suspect that is representative of voter sentiment and the measure is likely to pass, but there are some things residents should know and consider before casting their ballots:
• Term limits bring new people into elected offices.
• Incumbents have a huge advantage in elections through increased name recognition and the likelihood of raising more money than a challenger.
• Term limits already exist — we call them elections.
• Term limits take choices away from voters, preventing otherwise qualified candidates from seeking reelection.
• Term limits can increase polarization. Relationships and experience tend to allow for coalition building and compromise necessary for governing.
• Term limits often are seen as a way to reduce the influence of lobbyists and special interest influence by reducing entrenched relationships with officials.
• Term limits mean officials are less experienced, making them more dependent on those with deeper institutional and policy knowledge — lobbyists, unelected staffers and policy wonks — to deal with complex issues. This can put more public business into the hands of people we haven’t elected.
The drive for term limits is largely based on opposition to creating a governing class, concern that time in office can make leaders distant from their constituents and the assumption that greater time in office will make political figures corrupt. Public servants argue otherwise, and there are other effects to consider when casting your ballot.
All potential effects of the change should be weighed before you cast your ballot.