By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — A squabble over a November ballot initiative has delayed printing amid a looming deadline to prepare the ballots for military and absentee voters.
Cole County Judge Daniel Green ruled Tuesday that ballots for the general election should not be printed until the resolution of a legal challenge over the language concerning a state health-care exchange. Green is scheduled to hear the case Aug. 28.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, says the summary used by Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is misleading. The initiative will ask voters if they wish to allow Missouri to move forward in creating a state-based health-care exchange – essentially a marketplace to buy health insurance. A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, requires states to form such an exchange, or have the federal government run one for them.
Carnahan’s summary asks: “Shall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?”
Green’s ruling allows Carnahan to certify the ballot, but she must include a disclaimer to local election officials that litigation is pending in Cole Clounty. The disclaimer will say: “Local Election Authorities should not print the ballots until notified that the court approves the summary statement.”
Kinder said in a statement he agreed with the ruling that the ballot could be certified, as long as election officials didn’t print them yet.
“It is crucial that voters have fair and proper ballot summaries and that taxpayer dollars are not wasted by the Secretary of State allowing ballots to be printed that the court may rule illegal,” he said.
The first ballots must be ready next month, as law requires ballots for overseas military personnel to be printed by Sept. 22, and
absentee ballots to be available Sept. 25. Carnahan’s office said, despite the delay, the ballots should still be printed on time.
The Associated Press reported the SOS doesn’t plan to print the ballots until Sept. 13, after the parties officially nominate their presidential and vice presidential candidates at their national conventions. Spokesman Rich Lamb did not return calls from Missouri Watchdog on Wednesday.