Missouri county clerks in both parties say they need additional funding to protect voters and poll workers during the November general election.
Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon, a Columbia Democrat, notes November will be a high turnout election during the COVID-19 pandemic. She says county clerks have had unexpected costs.
“Having to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and make modifications to our polling places so that voters can have a safe experience,” Lennon says.
Lennon says funding is also needed to inform the public about changes made to election procedures this November.
The Missouri Legislature made the changes in May, for the August primary and November general election. Absentee voting without notarization is allowed for Missourians 65 and older, or those vulnerable to COVID. All others can vote by mail if they choose, but need notarization.
“Making sure that voters understand the process, and making sure that they have all the knowledge that they need to make an informed decision about the option that they want to choose in order to vote,” says Lennon.
Lennon says making sure Missouri has good and accessible elections with integrity is critical.
A national organization called the Brennan Center says CARES Act funding provided to Missouri isn’t enough to safely administer November elections. They want Congress to approve more funding.
As for Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R), he notes that since early May, he’s distributed $4.5 million to local election authorities, to prepare for the recent August primary and the upcoming November general election. His office has also recently shipped 4,900 additional face masks to county clerks.
Ashcroft visited all 116 Missouri election jurisdictions this summer, delivering 17,000 face masks, 17,000 face shields, 500 gallons of sanitizer and other supplies. Brennon says while clerks are grateful for the funding from the secretary of state’s office, they need more money for November.
“We have plexiglass shields that we have at each of our polling locations and we had to account for our larger number of polling places that we’re going to have for November,” Lennon says.
Lennon and GOP Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller, a former Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem, are among the clerks in both parties calling on Congress to approve additional funding to ensure safe elections in 2020.
Schoeller recently co-authored an op-ed in “Politico”, saying more than $50,000 is needed in Greene County, just to recruit additional election judges and compensate all election judges with hazard pay.
Election day is Tuesday November 3.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon, which was recorded on September 3, 2020:
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