On Tuesday, some Missourians will vote in local elections, including about ballot measures and candidates running for city council or school board. During a press conference this week, Gov. Mike Parson was questioned about the message he would give voters who are deciding whether the polling atmosphere is safe for them during the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Mike Parson

“I hope people feel safe to go out and vote. But if they don’t, the number one thing is their safety should be number one. So, if they don’t, then don’t go out and vote. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard myself say that,” says Parson. “If you didn’t feel safe, then I wouldn’t do that. But I hope people feel safe enough to go out and vote. Those elections are important – they’re important for what happens down the road as we all see right now what elected officials on the local level are doing.”

Parson says he thinks election workers are well prepared to help prevent voters from getting the coronavirus. He mentions Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a fellow Republican, making visits last week to election authorities across the state.

“I think they’re going to make that as safe as anywhere else you go in the state of Missouri,” says Parson.

Ashcroft’s office says the Secretary of State delivered nearly 17,000 face masks and 17,000 face shields, more than 500 gallons of sanitizer, 1,200 8-oz. pump bottles of hand sanitizer, 16,000 posters advocating physical distancing and more than 40,000 bright yellow floor strips to set distancing expectations.

“We have been working for months to secure the supplies that local election officials need to ensure the safety of our upcoming elections. Delivering these supplies to each of our 116 local election authorities the past two weeks provided a great opportunity to speak personally with them. You can have a different kind of conversation when you’re face-to-face. I also wanted to personally thank the county clerks because they are working very hard to keep your elections running smoothly. I want Missouri voters to know that we are working together on the local, state and federal levels to take every precaution to make voting safe and streamlined in the upcoming elections,” Ashcroft said.

The governor’s comments do not sit well with some elected officials on the other side of the aisle, including State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who’s running for the Democratic nomination in the governor’s race.

On Twitter, Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, also fired back.

Missouri does not have “no-excuse” mail-in voting. But a bill awaits Parson’s consideration that would let all registered Missouri voters cast an absentee ballot in this year’s August and November elections, if a notarized signature is included.

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