JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The two Republican candidates for Secretary of State have voiced their displeasure with problems that plagued the St. Louis County elections Tuesday.
Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, and Jay Ashcroft each announced their disgust after voters in more than 60 precincts in St. Louis County were unable to vote. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that some precincts ran out of paper ballots as early as 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, and that electronic voting booths may not have been correctly configured after the elections in March.
Kraus said the problems were serious enough to warrant the resignation of the St. Louis County Election Board, the state agency that oversees, regulates and executes elections in the county.
“The members of the board are the ones responsible for ensuring elections are conducted correctly and fairly in St. Louis County,” Kraus said in a statement. “St. Louis County’s elections were severely compromised yesterday, which is completely unacceptable… Missouri voters deserve a better election process, plain and simple. The board members need to take responsibility for this and allow the governor to appoint new members.”
Ashcroft went a step further and directly went after sitting Secretary of State Jason Kander.
“We are in the midst of one of the worst election debacles we have seen in our state in years,” Ashcroft told supporters in an email. “How is that even possible, you ask? Gross incompetence by Secretary of State Jason Kander, our state’s chief elections official… These mistakes have become the norm for him. We have seen a shortage of ballots in a number of recent elections.”
However, Kander argues that criticism is unfounded and that municipal elections, like those in St. Louis Tuesday, are outside jurisdiction of his office.
“The two gentlemen running against each other to be the next secretary of state apparently have spent more time writing campaign fundraising emails than learning the law because they are clearly clueless about how elections are run,” Kander said. “The state does not run local elections. There is an element of local control here… The secretary of state’s office does not the authority to force the St. Louis County Election Board to do anything… Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know the law and should learn it before launching attacks on my office.
“St. Louis County election officials are already taking full responsibility for this because it was their election.”
The secretary of state also noted that an investigation over yesterday’s debacle was already underway.
“My office is reviewing the situation to determine what St. Louis County did wrong and how they can fix it because the folks in St. Louis County are the only people that can ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “It is inexcusable that St. Louis County prevented eligible voters from casting a ballot.”
She said she expected that more information about the investigation would be available next week.
The St. Louis County Council has also launched an inquiry of their own to determine what exactly went wrong.
Updated 3:55 p.m. April 6, 2016: With comments from Secretary of State Jason Kander