Voter fraud takes spotlight in Boone County Clerk’s race, U.S. Senate committee

   

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Things are heating up in the race for Boone County clerk, and one of the most hotly debated topics has become voter fraud.

This comes after a lawsuit was filed by the progressive advocacy group Priorities USA against Missouri and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft over the state’s voter ID law, which they contend places unnecessary burden on people’s right to vote.

Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks, a Republican, has spoken in support of the law, saying it’s there to protect the integrity of the ballot box, to combat voter fraud.

“The goal is the average voter is protected by this law. The danger, the risk we have in elections is people who aren’t allowed to vote trying to cast a ballot,” he told KOMU in an interview.

Priorities USA argues that there’s no evidence of voter fraud at the polls since the stated enacted its first voter law back in the early 2000’s.

Burke, however, says voter fraud has been seen in Boone County.

“We’ve seen forged signatures in the past, we’ve seen instances with duplicated voter registrations,” he said. “We know that there are people that try to mess with the legal process. I do know there are always people that try to sneak by what the rules are.”

That statement, however, spurred his opponent, Democrat Brianna Lennon, to counter Burks’ comments, calling for proof of voter fraud or a retraction of his statements.

“Mr. Burks made statements on Thursday that he has seen voter fraud in Boone County. As the county clerk, his job is to investigate and refer any instances of voter fraud to the appropriate law enforcement agency. In light of these comments, the public deserves to see any evidence of Mr. Burks’ claims of voter fraud, including referrals that his office has made. If no evidence exists, the appropriate course of action would be to issue a retraction of his comments,” Lennon said. “There has not been a single credible instance of voter impersonation fraud in this state — the only type of fraud that photo identification requirements can claim to prevent. Boone County voters deserve transparency to ensure confidence in our democratic process.”

At the same time, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is preparing for a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, the committee that U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt chairs, where Ashcroft joins a panel of witnesses to discuss election security.

The hearing, titled, “Election Security Preparations: A State and Local Perspective” is set to take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20 in Washington, D.C.

The hearing is expected to include a discussion of issues relating to information sharing efforts coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, the awarding of $380 million in grants to states to improve their election infrastructure, and current legislative proposals before the Senate.

You can watch that hearing live here: https://www.rules.senate.gov/hearings/election-security-preparations-a-state-and-local-perspective

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.