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Editorial: House should temper voter-ease mania

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Though poll shows support has grown, assisted suicide still divisive in Massachusetts

In advance of Senate deliberations on a bill providing multiple ballot-casting options, House Speaker Ronald Mariano said his chamber will “need another vote” on election reforms this session.

He’s right, because on Wednesday, senators overwhelmingly passed a “ground-breaking” package of voting reforms, including making mail-in voting permanent, expanding early voting access and introducing same-day registration.

Dubbed the “VOTES” Act, it’s described as a “massive step in the right direction” that builds upon progress in voter access expansion made amid the pandemic.

It introduces same-day registration for new voters looking to cast a ballot on Election Day or any early voting day.

The bill also spells out a plan to boost ballot access for eligible incarcerated voters and people with disabilities.

The House, which has shown a willingness to go along with some portions of the Senate bill, approved a supplemental budget amendment in June that would have permanently authorized mail-in voting and early voting before biennial elections.

However, a year earlier, representatives rejected an amendment to a COVID-era voting bill that would have allowed Election Day registration, on a 139-16 vote.

“Obviously, we’ll wait and see what comes over in the form of the bill that we’ll get from the Senate,” Mariano said. “We have taken a vote on the same-day amendment. We’ll see what happens when we begin the debate.”

Existing mail-in voting and expanded early voting provisions expire Dec. 15, absent action to extend or amend them. That could revert any special elections or spring contests back to pre-pandemic voting patterns.

The momentum behind these voting amenities apparently stems from the robust turnout in the state’s 2020 general election, which featured a hotly contested, ideologically divisive race for president.

A record 3,657,972 votes were cast in that election, after lawmakers and election officials implemented reforms designed to make voting safe and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1.5 million citizens used the vote-by-mail option in 2020, and another 844,000 voters cast ballots in-person before Election Day, thus avoiding busy polling places.

The 76% turnout rate was only exceeded once before, when more than 84% of registered voters participated in the 1992 election, another presidential year.

But presidential elections, which historically attract a larger turnout, aren’t reliable indicators of voter participation in nonpresidential years, as the paltry roughly 25% turnout in Boston’s preliminary showed.

Also, incentives like early-voting periods usually don’t increase the overall turnout, just elongate the process.

But that didn’t stop Senate leadership and Secretary of State Bill Galvin from jumping on the election smorgasbord bandwagon.

Galvin also backed legislation that expands in-person, early voting and allows same-day voter registration, which means eligible voters who need to register or update their voting information could do so at the polls on Election Day before casting their ballot.

Currently, voters must be registered at least 20 days before Election Day in order to vote. Galvin also would let anyone who missed the deadline to register on Election Day at the polls, but not during the intervening period.

Hopefully, the confluence of a viral pandemic and a presidential election will never occur again, which would likely preclude the need for all these voting enticements.

Bottom line, legislators must consider whether under normal circumstances, the cost of all these ballot enablers justify the expense of implementing them.

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Gophers flip Wisconsin offensive lineman from North Dakota State commitment

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Gophers flip Wisconsin offensive lineman from North Dakota State commitment

The Gophers football program picked up a commitment Sunday from Ashton Beers, an offensive lineman from Slinger, Wis.

Beers, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 296 pounds, flipped his pledge from North Dakota State. The three-star recruit had offers from Central Michigan, Buffalo, Toledo and others.

“I would like to thank (coaches and staff) for giving me the opportunity to play at NDSU,” Beers tweeted. “However, after being offered a scholarship, I have decided to commit to The University of Minnesota.”

Beers is the 16th commitment in the U’s class for 2022 and the first from the state of Wisconsin. Beers was named second-team all-state by the Associated Press and was on the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s large-school all-state team.

The NCAA early-signing period opens Dec. 15.

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After nearly two months, still no sign of missing Hillsdale man

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After nearly two months, still no sign of missing Hillsdale man

HILLSDALE, Mo. – The last time Shemika McGee saw her son, Jarius McGee, was in early September in Hillsdale.

After nearly two months, Jarius is still missing, and Shemika hasn’t heard anything from him.

“I think that he got a phone call, and with the phone call, it just led to something else which led to him missing and I just want him back at home,” she said.

McGee said her son would come and go like many young adults and wasn’t in any trouble that she knew of.

When he left, she said he didn’t have the usual things he would carry like his wallet or headphones.

“We really don’t have anything to go off other than the fact that he’s missing,” McGee said.

Hillsdale Chief of Police John Bernsen said an investigation is ongoing and the department is waiting on Jarius’ phone records.

“Every time we try to chase down a lead it’s always a dead end so that’s why we’re trying to put out the word out so much. We know somebody has seen him. Somebody knows something,” Chief Bernsen said.

Looking for an Angel President Theda Person heard about Jarius missing through social media. Now her non-profit organization has joined the search.

“I’ve created a flyer I’ve contacted Missouri State Highway Patrol to make sure that a flyer was created because law enforcement didn’t really do that,” Person said.

Person believes more can be done in the search is prepared to help McGee as needed.

“1f we say that we care about those that we are serving then we should be more intentional,” she said.

She said with McGee missing this long, he could be anywhere. When asked if he were another race would there be a more thorough investigation, Person thinks so.

“Definitely we can see with the Gabby Petito case and other cases,” Person said.

McGee just wants to know where her son is.

“I mean anything that you can think of goes through my mind,” she said. “Where’s he at, who could he be with? There’s a lot of things going through my mind.”

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‘They’re basically stealing from kids’ – Thieves steal Boy Scout troop’s trailer

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‘They’re basically stealing from kids’ – Thieves steal Boy Scout troop’s trailer

ST. LOUIS – A local Boy Scout troop is heartbroken after a trailer carrying all their camping equipment was stolen over the weekend in the Holly Hills neighborhood. Now, the troop is asking for the public’s help to either find the trailer or help replace the items lost.

Troop 104’s bright red trailer was stolen Friday morning around 5 a.m. Scoutmaster Michael Lohff said the truck and all the equipment inside totaled more than $15,000, including tents, cookware, and tarps. He said all the items were acquired from years of donations and fundraising. 

“It has a big impact on the fact that we’re going to have to look up replacing everything as we go along, or definitely before we hit the road again, and we want to be able to do that very soon,” Lohff said.  

He said he brought a bright red trailer when he first started with the troop so he could carry all the troop’s equipment for camping and other activities.  

“They’re basically stealing from kids; that’s what they’re doing,” he said. “Whoever did take the trailer and all that equipment from the boys. They stole from the boys that are members of the troop and have been members of the troop for all these years.”

Lohff said all the items were acquired through donations and fundraising by his scout members.

The trailer was parked in a private lot in the Holly Hills neighborhood in south St. Louis. Lohff said he has parked the trailer there for nearly two decades without any incident. He was heartbroken to find the trailer had been stolen.

“That raises very personal concerns of who’s right behind my backyard,” neighbor Chuck Smith said.

Smith lives a couple of doors down from the lot. He said the trailer has become a neighborhood staple over the years.

“To do it at this time of year before Christmas, it just seems like a very insensitive thing to do,” he said.  

Lohff said the trailer also got broken into last year, but only a few items were stolen after that incident. But after this recent theft, he’s going to upgrade his security. He said police do not have any security footage. 

Anyone with information on the person or persons responsible for the theft is asked to call the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department at 314-444-0100 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

There is a GoFundMe page to help the troop replace the stolen trailer and gear.

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