JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Republican secretary of state candidate Jay Ashcroft recommitted to his petition to put a constitutional amendment to make Missouri the 13th state in the nation to have a photo voter ID law Thursday.
Current Secretary of State Jason Kander approved the initiative-petition for circulation Tuesday, and Ashcroft will continue to push for a petition he believes is essential to protect each person’s ability to vote. Kander, a Democrat, has strongly opposed voter ID measures.
“This is an idea whose time really came in 2006 when it was thrown out by the MO Supreme court,” Ashcroft said. “We’ve waited the last nine years for the legislature to do that and it’s time for people to bring this common sense solution to help mitigate election fraud and get that passed in the state.”
Ashcroft was joined by state Representative Chuck Basye and state Senator Kurt Schaefer, a Republican candidate for attorney general. Basye, along with other House Republicans, voted to pass photo voter ID laws in the last three years, but those pieces of legislation have failed to progress much further, and have nearly always faced the threat of a veto from Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon.
Schaefer stated he wanted to get involved on the ground floor to assist with the petition.
“I was happy to sign on early with the process,” Schaefer said. “I think one of the things that it’s key for the state of Missouri to do in a legal capacity is guarantee the integrity of elections and election results, and I think this is a key step in doing it.”
Ashcroft needs to collect 170,000 signatures across the state and gather signatures amounting to at least 8 percent votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in six of the eight congressional districts. To fulfill that last requirement, Ashcroft says he and his fellow organizers will aim for nearly 300,000 signatures.
Ashcroft said that voter fraud had become widespread enough in Missouri, as well as outside of the state that greater accountability in voting was necessary, citing the controversies surrounding the elections of Mayor Betty McCray in the township of Kinloch and Representative John Rizzo of Kansas City.
The prospective secretary of state candidate also laughed off that the photo ID law could disenfranchise minority and younger voters, two groups that usually swing to the Democratic side of the aisle. Democrats commonly voice that grievance on the subject of photo voter IDs.
Ashcroft stated that if the petition really was some underhanded way to disenfranchise voters as opponents claimed, “It’s a really bad way to do it, because we’ll provide IDs for them. If you look at Indiana, if you look at Georgia, if you look at Kansas, they did provide voter IDs and the minority voting participation went up”
However, that’s not necessarily the case. A 2014 study from the Government Accountability Office found that photo ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee accounted for small, but not statistically insignificant, drops in voter turnout and that turnout from younger, recently registered and/or African-American voters dropped more significantly than their counterpart populations.
Still, Ashcroft believes that the secretary of state’s office should be doing more to ensure that those voting in Missouri elections are doing so without the threat of someone else taking away their vote.
“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,” he said.
Ashcroft is in the midst of a statewide tour to promote his petition, which he said may begin to circulate as early as Monday.