The Missouri Secretary of State’s race is beginning to pick up steam.

Republican Secretary of State candidate Jay Ashcroft (picture from Facebook)

Republican Secretary of State candidate Jay Ashcroft (picture from Facebook)

In his “Election Integrity Tour”, Republican Jay Ashcroft has been critical of outgoing Democratic Secretary Jason Kander’s handling of the office.

Ashcroft points to poor management on ballot language for a cigarette tax initiative which a court determined was misleading and inaccurate.  He also contends instances of ballot shortages and a report of voter fraud were mishandled.

Ashcroft claims Kander’s obstructing an investigation into the voter fraud report from a state representative primary in St. Louis.   “According the board of elections there, the Secretary of State’s office told them not to release the necessary documents to investigate whether or not vote fraud occurred” says Ashcroft.  The fraud case involves absentee ballots cast in the Democratic primary between Penny Hubbard and Bruce Franks.

In addition, Ashcroft has championed a ballot initiative which would stiffen ID requirements at polling places.  He dismisses claims the measure would suppress voter turnout.  “The law only goes into effect if the legislature appropriates the funds, and then provides those funds for free ID’s for people who don’t have them” said Ashcroft.   “If you lose your photo ID and go to vote, you’re still get to vote a provisional ballot on that day.  Every eligible voter is allowed to vote under this law.”

Ashcroft’s opponent in the race, Democrat Robin Smith, thinks the law would threaten voting rights of elderly, disabled, college-age and minority people.  She wants to make casting ballots easier by expanding early voting opportunities, which is opposed by Ashcroft.

Democrats, for the most part, argue voter fraud is very rare and constitutes a minuscule fraction of overall voting.  Ashcroft contends the practice is harmful to elections.  He says “We have had individuals that have gone to vote.  They go to sign the book and someone’s already signed their name to them.  That’s wrong.  They didn’t get to vote.”

Ashcroft is the son of former U.S. attorney general and Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft.  He beat out state Sen. Will Kraus after an ugly primary contest.  Democrat Smith is a well-known former St. Louis TV news anchor who is African-American.  If victorious, she would be the first person of color elected to a statewide office in Missouri.