Missouri Secretary of State Loses Challenge to Exchange Ballot Measure

Published October 3, 2012

A Missouri judge threw out Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s summary of a health-care exchange ballot measure, replacing it with new language backed by state Republicans.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, had led a group of other Republicans who filed a lawsuit in August over Carnahan’s summary, which they called deceptive.

The summary now reads: “Shall Missouri Law be amended to prohibit the Governor, or any state agency, from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the legislature?”

The original wording, written by Carnahan, said: “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?”

The Missouri General Assembly approved the ballot measure this summer. Under President Obama’s health care law, each state must create a health insurance exchange or have the federal government run one for it. The ballot proposal would require the governmet to obtain approval from lawmakers or voters in order to create such an exchange.

Carnahan Will Not Appeal

Carnahan will not appeal Green’s ruling, removing any impediments to printing general election ballots. Carnahan could not convince her fellow Democrat, Attorney General Chris Koster, to file an appeal on behalf of her office.

Koster issued a statement saying Cole Circuit Judge Daniel Green’s “summary more accurately reflects the legislative intent than does the secretary’s proposed language. My job is to call balls and strikes in an impartial manner. The argument is over.”

Carnahan released a press statement expressing disappointment in Koster’s decision.

“The new summary language is incomplete, uninformative and a disservice to Missouri voters who must decide on the critical issue of how and when Missouri individuals, families and small businesses will have access to affordable health care,” she said.

Just in Time to Print Ballots

According to SOS spokeswoman Stacie Temple, Carnahan will certify the new language and send the information to local election authorities within the necessary timeframe.

“At this point, no deadlines have passed that would delay the ballot printing process,” Temple said.

Missouri’s general election ballots cannot be printed until the national parties certify their presidential candidates. Each has 10 days following the parties’ national conventions to complete that process. Federal and state laws require military and overseas absentee ballots to be ready by Sept. 22, and a Missouri law requires in-state absentee ballots to be prepared by Sept. 25.

Kinder said he was glad to see the ballot fight end.

“I am pleased that [Carnahan’s] attempt to mislead voters failed and that Missourians now will have a fair and balanced summary when they consider this important ballot issue in November,” he said in a statement.

Johnny Kampis ([email protected]) writes for Missouri Watchdog.