Two Missouri Republican statewide elected leaders are clashing over the results of a state audit. State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick has released an audit of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office.
The audit says Ashcroft’s decision to leave ERIC, the national Electronic Registration Information Center, will cause local election authorities to have less information to find and correct inaccurate voter records.
“The Secretary of State’s office joined ERIC after a unanimous resolution was adopted by the local election authorities asking for that membership. The decision to withdraw was made without consulting with the LEAs,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.
Ashcroft, who is running for governor, calls the audit “a political opinion in the guise of an audit report.”
“We are doing voter list maintenance,” Ashcroft told reporters. “We are getting changes of address. We are getting death records. We’re actually, on average, getting more death record notices per month now than we did under ERIC.”
According to the audit, Ashcroft did not fully evaluate the benefits received from ERIC prior to terminating the membership, but Ashcroft said his office did for about one year.
Ashcroft suggests the audit of his office is a “deep state” political attack. Deep state is a conspiracy theory about a network of people within government that work as a hidden government against those that counter their beliefs.
“It’s understandable why the people of this country and the people of Missouri can think that there’s a deep state when things like this happen,” said Ashcroft.
Fitzpatrick, a fellow Republican, said the findings of the audit are not political.
“The term deep state being used, I thought was a little far out there. I mean, that’s at the end of the day, this is not, this is not a multi-thousand-per-person bureaucracy. This is a relatively small office that does audit work,” said Fitzpatrick. “There is no political benefit from my perspective of trying to get into a fight with the Secretary of State’s office, that’s not what we’re interested in doing. But look, at the end of the day, this audit report went through the typical process.”
The audit said the Secretary of State’s Office refused to provide information on the office’s implementation of newly required cyber security reviews of Missouri’s 116 local election authorities every two years. Ashcroft said the reviews included confidential information that his office is not allowed to release. He also said the new law has not been fully implemented.
To view the audit, click here.
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