Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says it’s too early to tell if the state’s voter ID law has helped to battle suspected voter fraud. In 2016, Missouri voters approved a photo ID requirement to vote. The first elections under the new law were in August 2017.
“Cases of fraud like that are very difficult to uncover. There is not a kind of structured approach,” says Ashcroft. “Prosecutions of vote fraud are done at the local level. There’s no required reporting mechanism through the (Missouri) Secretary of State’s Office. Photo ID really only looks at one aspect of that. One thing that we need to always be doing is looking at how we can protect our elections in every manner while still making sure that if you’re registered, you can vote.”
Ashcroft says one thing in the public mindset these days is election security. He says his office must act as though the state’s election infrastructure is the number one target to foreign adversaries. Missouri’s system is scanned by outside parties about 100,000 times a day.
“Could those be web crawlers that are scraping information? Yes, sometimes. Could they be people that are just misdirected to the wrong site at times? Yes. Could they just be scanning the network to check how the internet is working? Yes. But some of those we assume are bad actors,” Ashcroft says. “We have to assume frankly that all of them are bad actors or at least we have to act as if they are all bad actors because we have to make sure that no one gets in.”
Missouri’s primary election gets underway on Tuesday. Ashcroft, a Republican, tells Missourinet the state’s registered voters without a government-issued photo ID can still cast a ballot in the election.
“This (voter ID) law not only makes it a little bit more difficult to cheat, but it also expands ballot access,” he says. “The best part about the law is that we have had a discreet number of individuals that we can point to that were allowed to vote under this law that would’ve been turned away under the old law.”
There are three options to vote. The first and easiest option is to provide a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver license, passport or military ID with a photo).
The second option allows a voter without a photo ID listed above to provide the other forms previously allowed including voter registration cards, college ID’s and bank statements, and can sign a statement and cast a regular ballot.
The statement says the voter acknowledges they don’t have the government issued photo ID and informs them that they can get one at no charge.
Voters without a photo ID would have to vote a provisional ballot. If their signature matches the one on file with their election authority, their vote will count as a regular ballot.
Ashcroft says the law was designed so that most people would not see a difference in their voting experience.
“That was something critical to us. We wanted to make it easy,” Ashcroft says.
Voter ID laws are highly controversial. Some opponents of such laws contend that that problem is voter impersonation, not voter fraud.
Several similar regulations have been struck down in other states. One in North Carolina was cited by a judge for intentional suppression of African-American votes.
More than 30 states, mostly led by Republican governors and legislatures, have enacted some form of a voter ID law in recent years.
Polls are open for tomorrow’s primary election from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you are in line by 7, your vote will count.
Missourinet will have live election coverage beginning in the 7 p.m. hour on Tuesday.
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