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Challenges to Nonpartisan Court Plan move forward

Two petitions relating to repealing the nonpartisan court plan are one step closer to the ballot.

Secretary of State Jason Kander announced Wednesday that the petitions, submitted to his office in August, have met state standards and may now begin circulating in an effort to collect enough signatures to get on state ballots in November 2014.

In order for the petitions to circulate, Kander had to approve the ballot language on the petitions, and then the state auditor prepared a fiscal impact statement. Those statements, once approved by the Missouri Attorney General, become the official ballot title.

The approved versions read:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • repeal the nonpartisan court plan used to select Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges;
  • require such judges to instead be elected in partisan elections, with political parties nominating party candidates in the primary election prior to the general election;
  • allow judges or judicial candidates to solicit, receive and make any legal campaign contributions or expenditures that benefit their own campaigns;
  • decrease Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges’ terms from 12 years to 8; and
  • increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 7 to 9?

According to a press release from the Secretary of State’s office, the petitions were submitted by John Elliot. In a brief August interview with Missouri Lawyers Media, Elliott, a resident of Smithville, confirmed that he made the submission but declined to immediately address what group is backing the proposal.

To get on the ballot, the petitions need signatures from registered votes — specifically, 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor’s election from six of the state’s eight congressional districts, by 5 p.m. on May 4, 2014.