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Ashcroft forms bipartisan advisory committee of county clerks


Ashcroft hopes to focus on photo voter ID in bid for Secretary of State

SIKESTON, Mo. – Jay Ashcroft, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, has reached across the aisle to form a group of county clerks called the Election Integrity Advisory Committee, in part to highlight the call for photo voter ID.

The committee, made up of five Democratic and five Republican county clerks, met for the first time Thursday at the annual convention for the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities in Sikeston.

Ashcroft says that he is forming the group to re-establish trust between local election officials and the secretary of state’s office. Ashcroft is a frequent critic of current Secretary of State Jason Kander, and was one of his most vocal detractors after the St. Louis County election debacle in April’s municipal elections.

“As secretary of state, I will restore the spirit of collaboration that previously existed among Missouri election officials,” Ashcroft said in a statement. “I appreciate the experience, advice and support of these officials who, combined, have over a century of experience administering Missouri’s elections.”

The committee was founded in part to highlight Kander and his predecessor, Robin Carnahan’s, opposition to photo voter ID. While Ashcroft attempted to get language on the ballot for a photo ID constitutional amendment with an initiative petition, he was ultimately unsuccessful. However, the General Assembly passed HB 1631 to implement photo voter ID, and a constitutional amendment passed out of the Legislature will be on the ballot in November.

Ashcroft has championed that proposal since he first announced he would run for secretary of state.

“As a state, as government, we ought to assure that every person’s counts, that they’re not going to be disenfranchised by someone illegally doing it,” Ashcroft said last July when he announced his petition.

The new committee will act in an advisory role to help give support and counsel to the man looking to become the cheif election authority in the state. The five Democratic county clerks on the committee are Wes Wagner (Jefferson County), Bree Shaw (Schuyler), Carol Reidlinger (Gentry), Vicki Corwin (Daviess), and Angie Curley (Dent). The five Republicans are Cindy Elmore (Stone), Dennis Von Allmen (Howell), Linda Neindick (Lafayette), Shane Scholler (Greene), and Nick La Strada (Pettis).

Wagner implied that Democrat Robin Smith, Ashcroft’s opponent, has not been as forthcoming when it comes to working with election authorities.

“Conducting fair and honest elections requires cooperation between all election officials,” he said. “Jay Ashcroft is the only candidate who has demonstrated a willingness and readiness to restore a working relationship between local election officials and the secretary of state’s office.”