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Disabled political candidates can now use proxies to register

A new law may help disabled political candidates in Missouri have greater visibility at the ballot box. Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a bill that will remove a disadvantage that many would-be office-holders face when registering for primaries.

The problem was this: the names of candidates on a primary ballot appear in an order determined by random drawing. But only candidates who file in person on the first day of the filing period were eligible to be on the top part of the ballot. Candidates who were unable to register in person, such as those whose disabilities made doing so impossible, had the option of registering by mail. However, they were not eligible for the random drawing. Their names were automatically placed on the bottom of the ballot.

This may not seem like a big deal. But in a crowded primary field, candidates at the end of the list may get less consideration from voters. And it is not fair that candidates who cannot appear in person to register, such as military members stationed overseas or disabled people, should be treated differently.

The Legislature has fixed this problem, just in time for this year’s filing period. They changed the law to allow proxies to register on behalf of deployed or disabled candidates. This will allow them to be part of the randomized listing on the ballot, so that they will have as good of a chance as everybody else to be at or near the top of the ballot list.

It remains to be seen if this increased fairness in the process will lead to more disabled people in state offices. If so, people who receive Social Security disability benefits may have greater representation in the government.

Source: Associated Press, “Mo. Governor signs bill letting military members, disabled residents use proxies for candidacy,” Jordan Shapiro, Feb. 19, 2014

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