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response from Attorney General's office re: IRV

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  • Eric Barr
    Hi everyone, After many months, I finally heard back from the Missouri Attorney General s office regarding our request for an opinion on the legality of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 21 8:31 AM
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      Hi everyone,

      After many months, I finally heard back from the Missouri Attorney
      General's office regarding our request for an opinion on the legality
      of municipal IRV elections. The person I received a call from was the
      Assistant Attorney General, Brett Berri. He had good and bad news.

      The bad news is that he said that the Attorney General can not provide
      an official opinion on the issue for two reasons:
      1) The AG does not issue opinions on proposed legislation, only passed
      legislation. So if someone, like us, asks "Would this be legal if it
      passed?", they do not give an opinion on that. It has to pass first.
      2) The state AG usually doesn't issue opinions on municipal issues anyway.

      But the good news is that Mr. Berri did some helpful unofficial
      research for us, had some good advice, and is willing to help us some
      more if needed. His research found two relevant laws that he said
      seemed to contradict each other. In the Missouri election laws,
      chapter 115, it says that consistent voting laws should be applied
      across the state. He said the statement is vague but could imply the
      state might need to specifically authorize a change like IRV. But on
      the other hand, charter city chapter 82 section 180 (82.180) said that
      the city is to establish the form of ballot, which suggests state
      authorization may NOT be needed. He read (I think from that section)
      something like "All cities that have adopted a charter have power by
      the charter to prescribe the manner nominations will be made and the
      form of ballot to be used." He said that Jefferson City used that
      section as grounds to go from partisan to non-partisan elections,
      eliminating the primary. So his unofficial opinion was that it "may
      be OK" for a charter city to implement IRV.

      He also had two pieces of good advice for moving forward
      1) When trying to implement IRV in any charter city, try to be sure to
      have cooperation of the local election authority/board and/or the
      county clerk, and the city attorney. If the local election authority
      is against the idea, then they could potentially ask us to supply
      money for the extra costs of switching over and having two election
      methods within one county. And/or they may challenge IRV in court if
      it passes.
      2) We could in parallel ask some state representative (Representative
      Bland or another) to sponsor a legislation change to Chapter 115 of
      the election laws so that it didn't contradict 82.180, should IRV be
      challenged in court.

      Finally, Mr. Berri offered that if any city attorneys have questions
      when we approach them, that he would be happy to talk through the
      issue with the city attorney. And he asked to be kept informed of our
      progress.

      So my humble suggestion would be that people who live in charter
      cities (is there a list of these?) could now approach their election
      officials and city attorney with this information and gauge their
      level of cooperation. And maybe I can ask Mr. Berri if he's willing
      to suggest the legislation language change that would be needed. Then
      I can ask Representative Bland if he is willing to sponsor the change,
      and if not, then we can move on to another Representative.

      Thanks,
      Eric
    • Robert Brantley
      When elected I will sponsor a legislation change to Chapter 115 of the election laws... www.RobertBrantley.com ... I m doing the best I ever did. I m doing the
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 24 6:17 AM
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        When elected I will sponsor a legislation change to Chapter 115 of the election laws...

         

        www.RobertBrantley.com

         

        ----------------------------
        I'm doing the best I ever did.
        I'm doing the best that I can.

        -----Original Message-----
        From: InstantRunoffMO@yahoogroups.com [mailto:InstantRunoffMO@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Eric Barr
        Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 10:32 AM
        To: InstantRunoffMO@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [InstantRunoffMO] response from Attorney General's office re: IRV

         

        Hi everyone,

        After many months, I finally heard back from the Missouri Attorney
        General's office regarding our request for an opinion on the legality
        of municipal IRV elections. The person I received a call from was the
        Assistant Attorney General, Brett Berri. He had good and bad news.

        The bad news is that he said that the Attorney General can not provide
        an official opinion on the issue for two reasons:
        1) The AG does not issue opinions on proposed legislation, only passed
        legislation. So if someone, like us, asks "Would this be legal if it
        passed?", they do not give an opinion on that. It has to pass first.
        2) The state AG usually doesn't issue opinions on municipal issues anyway.

        But the good news is that Mr. Berri did some helpful unofficial
        research for us, had some good advice, and is willing to help us some
        more if needed. His research found two relevant laws that he said
        seemed to contradict each other. In the Missouri election laws,
        chapter 115, it says that consistent voting laws should be applied
        across the state. He said the statement is vague but could imply the
        state might need to specifically authorize a change like IRV. But on
        the other hand, charter city chapter 82 section 180 (82.180) said that
        the city is to establish the form of ballot, which suggests state
        authorization may NOT be needed. He read (I think from that section)
        something like "All cities that have adopted a charter have power by
        the charter to prescribe the manner nominations will be made and the
        form of ballot to be used." He said that Jefferson City used that
        section as grounds to go from partisan to non-partisan elections,
        eliminating the primary. So his unofficial opinion was that it "may
        be OK" for a charter city to implement IRV.

        He also had two pieces of good advice for moving forward
        1) When trying to implement IRV in any charter city, try to be sure to
        have cooperation of the local election authority/board and/or the
        county clerk, and the city attorney. If the local election authority
        is against the idea, then they could potentially ask us to supply
        money for the extra costs of switching over and having two election
        methods within one county. And/or they may challenge IRV in court if
        it passes.
        2) We could in parallel ask some state representative (Representative
        Bland or another) to sponsor a legislation change to Chapter 115 of
        the election laws so that it didn't contradict 82.180, should IRV be
        challenged in court.

        Finally, Mr. Berri offered that if any city attorneys have questions
        when we approach them, that he would be happy to talk through the
        issue with the city attorney. And he asked to be kept informed of our
        progress.

        So my humble suggestion would be that people who live in charter
        cities (is there a list of these?) could now approach their election
        officials and city attorney with this information and gauge their
        level of cooperation. And maybe I can ask Mr. Berri if he's willing
        to suggest the legislation language change that would be needed. Then
        I can ask Representative Bland if he is willing to sponsor the change,
        and if not, then we can move on to another Representative.

        Thanks,
        Eric

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