H. Scott Seal


H. Scott Seal is the managing editor of the Portageville Missourian-News and has over 30 years of newspapering experience.


"Non-election" Elections

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Here is something else to consider when going to the polls.

The trend of allowing "non-elections" has been around for quite a while.

This bad idea began more than a decade ago when county party committees were exempted from holding elections for committeemen and committeewomen. That got the ball rolling, and Missouri started down the slippery slope.

Today, public school districts, hospital districts, water districts, fire districts, ambulance districts, have this exemption . . . "if the number of candidates who have filed for a particular office is equal to the number of positions in that office to be filled by the election, no election shall be held for such office, and the candidates shall assume the responsibilities of their offices at the same time and in the same manner as if they had been elected."

Non-elections have created some issues that legislators may not have anticipated. One of the biggest problems with the process is that non-elections eliminate any opportunity for write-in candidates once filing has closed.

There may be times when -- during the period between the filing deadline and election day -- voters discover something negative about a candidate, and they don't want that person to automatically "win" the non-election.

Currently, cities, towns and villages sometimes are saddled with all the election costs in April. Those costs once were spread among the city, town, village, school district and other special districts. But, now those districts are exempted. The cities, towns and villages want the same deal.

The Missouri Press Association believes all political subdivisions should hold elections, whether one candidate files for an office or a dozen candidates file.

Voters should perform their civic duty and vote candidates in to office. Write-in candidates should not be trumped by this law. Voters should be able to read names on a ballot so they know who is representing them.

The Governor vetoed last year's big Elections Bill, and one of the reasons for his veto was this Non-Elections Elections issue.

Candidates should be elected.

Non-elections are not an example of good government.

Non-Election Elections might just be unconstitutional! (according to me!)

The point is . . . . Non-Election Elections are not decided "by ballot."

The Missouri Press Association opposes this!

The Missouri Constitution says:

Article VIII, Section 3

Methods of voting--secrecy of ballot--exceptions.

All elections by the people shall be by ballot or by any mechanical method prescribed by law. All election officers shall be sworn or affirmed not to disclose how any voter voted; provided, that in cases of contested elections, grand jury investigations and in the trial of all civil or criminal cases in which the violation of any law relating to elections, including nominating elections, is under investigation or at issue, such officers may be required to testify and the ballots cast may be opened, examined, counted, and received as evidence.