The Missouri Resolution Designed to Sucker Voters into Banning Ranked Choice Voting

missouri state capitol
Created: 05 April, 2024
4 min read

Photo Credit: Steven Martin / Flickr


There is a resolution in the Missouri Legislature that if approved by voters would ban the use of ranked choice voting (RCV). However, RCV isn't the sole subject. There is another provision meant to trick voters into supporting it. 

Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 78, which just recently cleared the state Senate and was introduced by Sen. Ben Brown, aims to amend the Missouri Constitution in two ways:

It stipulates that only citizens of the United States that are over the age of 18 and are residents in Missouri can vote in state elections. And, it prohibits the ranking of candidates in elections.

It's an odd combination of provisions. One has to do with voter eligibility. The other has to do with limiting voting methods. One is also already the law of the land.

Specifically, in Missouri and in the United States, people have to be citizens of the US and over the age of 18 to vote. It is enshrined in the US Constitution and the Missouri Constitution. 

There is also a federal law passed in 1996 that stipulates that a noncitizen will face a fine and/or imprisonment for voting illegally.

The Missouri resolution would only change one word in Article VIII, Section 2 of the state constitution as it pertains to voter eligibility. Instead of "All citizens of the United States," it would say "only citizens."

IVP Existence Banner

There is no difference between the two. The constitution as well as state and federal law make it clear that citizenship is a requirement to vote.

When he introduced the resolution, Sen. Brown said the purpose of it was "to fortify our elections to make sure that every Missourian’s voice is heard and counted." There is nothing in the resolution that does this.

So, the question is, why is the citizenship requirement part of the resolution if it is already law? Put simply, to prey on the emotions of voters and give them something that is a guaranteed yes vote. 

Even if it is for something that would do nothing.

Immigration and illegal crossings into US borders are hot button issues -- especially right now as voters are inundated with headlines about an escalating crisis at the US-Mexico border. 

With a rise in illegal border crossings comes a concern among some that noncitizens will vote in and swing US elections. Candidates, particularly those who campaign to Republicans, try to stoke these fears to turnout their base.

There are a few anecdotal cases each election cycle of a noncitizen illegally registering and casting a ballot, but it is so rare that researchers say the number of occurrences is "infinitesimal."

However, this does not stop candidates and others from claiming that it happens in such large numbers that it constitutes a fraud on the elections process. 

IVP Existence Banner

If SJR 78 clears the Missouri House and is approved to go before voters in November, Missourians can expect campaign ads for the resolution to focus mostly on the citizenship provision. 

Of course voters are going to support something that says only citizens can vote. It is already how voter eligibility works in the US.

If Brown only tried to pitch a ranked choice voting ban, there is no guarantee it would pass -- especially in a state where voters have already shown they support comprehensive election reform.

And, there are cities like St. Louis that have already passed nonpartisan primary and voting reform. 

Voters taking control over their elections has irked many Missouri lawmakers. There have even been multiple attempts to make it harder to get citizen-driven initiatives on the ballot and passed into law. 

This is another issue that could go before voters in November

RCV is a nonpartisan reform. It is used at the state level in Maine, typically considered a blue state, and Alaska, which typically swings red each election cycle.

It is used in cities with Republican mayors and majorities and cities with Democratic mayors and majorities. It has been used by both major parties for their nomination processes in states like Virginia and Utah.

IVP Existence Banner

In total, RCV is used in 60 jurisdictions in the US for party nomination processes, party-run primaries, absentee, overseas, and military voting, special elections, and/or standard elections. 

Some cities may decide they want to use it. Others may decide they don't want it. SJR 78 would remove the choice, and supporters of the resolution may never even bring this up because it is not the winning issue.

The winning strategy for Brown and supporters of his resolution is to trick voters.  

Latest articles

Funding Problems Plague Oakland's New 'Democracy Dollars' Program
Nearly three-quarters of Oakland voters (74%) approved an initiative in 2022 that took a comprehensive approach to campaign finance solutions in the city. However, one of its historic changes is in need of funding if it is going to be implemented by 2026; namely, its "democracy dollars" public finance system....
17 May, 2024
3 min read
Trump-Biden Debate
Did the Major Party Campaigns Just End the Commission on Presidential Debates?
President Joe Biden’s campaign issued a challenge to former President Donald Trump Wednesday to two debates: One in June and one in September. The debates have to be hosted by a news outlet and will not be conducted in front of a crowd....
15 May, 2024
6 min read
Oregon Capitol Building
Only 7% of Voters Have Returned Ballots in Oregon's Closed Primaries
Imagine being part of the largest segment of the registered voting population and being denied the right to an equal vote in elections. Well, millions of voters across the US don't have to imagine this because it is a reality for them in every election cycle. ...
14 May, 2024
3 min read