Missouri voters don't need early balloting

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt has guided the state through some thorny election issues that had the potential for turning into fiascos. Thanks to his foresight, the state's new provisional voting did not disrupt balloting in St. Louis in last month's general election as many had feared.

Now Blunt wants the Missouri Legislature in its upcoming session to take up provisions for early voting, which would let voters cast their ballots before Election Day. Other states already are trying early voting.

The aim is to make it easier to vote, thereby getting more participation. But efforts to increase turnout have, on the whole, failed. Motor-voter registration, for example, got more people signed up to vote, but those new voters haven't bothered to vote. Provisional voting turned out to be a minor blip -- as it should be if local election officials are keeping accurate records.

Now the federal government has mandated new voting machines, which will likely cost Missouri election authorities millions of dollars. This cost plus the unknown cost of early voting is enough to urge caution on plans for early voting.

Besides, states that have early voting haven't seen an increase in turnout -- only more work for election officials to accommodate voters who probably would have gone to the polls on Election Day anyway.

Early voting isn't a good idea for Missouri. There are more important issues for legislators this year.