Saint Louis, Mo. — Republican candidate for Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft, is challenging the newly announced Democratic candidate to a debate on his signature issue, voter ID.
Ashcroft is one of two Republicans seeking the party nod for the SOS post. Ashcroft and state senate Will Kraus from Kansas City have both made implementing voter ID laws a centerpiece of their campaigns, arguing that it will eliminate voter fraud in Missouri.
“Missourians overwhelmingly believe that a photo voter ID law is a common sense way to protect the integrity of our votes from voter fraud,” Ashcroft said in a statement. “For 12 years, Missouri has had liberal Democrat Secretaries of State who have stood in the way of efforts to protect our elections. Robin Smith seems to be using the same tired rhetoric while trying to hide her position from voters. I challenge her to a public debate on the merits of a photo voter ID law to allow Missouri voters to make a decision about who is best equipped to protect the integrity of our elections.”
Robin Smith, a former longtime news anchor from the St. Louis area, is running for the SOS post as a Democrat, a party that has largely opposed any voter ID laws, saying they disenfranchise poor, elderly or minority voters.
Her campaign told The Missouri Times that Ashcroft’s statement was filled with “sweeping generalizations” and “stereotypes and accusations,” while saying that she “refuses to respond to baseless negative attacks.” The statement went on to say the candidate wouldn’t prejudge the issue based on polling, but still strongly hinted at opposition.
“[Smith] has and remains committed to protecting the voting rights of all – especially those – who will lose their right to vote- under [Ashcroft’s] Voter ID Challenge,” her campaign said.
In the legislature, Kraus has repeatedly filed bills looking to implement voter ID in the state. Since announcing his campaign, Ashcroft has filed a constitutional amendment and is circulating an initiative petition to allow Missouri to implement voter ID — Ashcroft’s amendment would not make photo IDs a requirement for voting but instead amend the constitution to give the legislature the authority to pass a bill to that effect.
Ashcroft said in a statement that Smith had thus far “refused” to take a firm stance on the voter ID issue and challenged her to a public debate. Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @CMReischman