“The secretary of state is the person you would expect to move heaven and earth to ensure that all eligible Missourians can exercise their fundamental and constitutional right to vote,” Faleti said during a press event Monday morning. “Jay Ashcroft has instead moved to suppress votes in Missouri.”
Faleti was joined by Democratic Reps. Crystal Quade, Ashley Bland-Manlove, and Kip Kendrick. The group assembled outside of the James C. Kirkpatrick Information Center, where the Secretary of State’s Office is, to urge leadership to make a move on mail-in ballot deadlines.
“Ashcroft’s silence is deafening, derelict, and dangerous to democracy,” he said. “He is unworthy of our trust. He is unworthy to occupy the Kirkpatrick Building. He is unworthy to remain secretary of state.”
Kendrick reiterated a request he made in a letter to Gov. Mike Parson last week, urging him to call a special legislative session focused on ensuring that ballots postmarked by Election Day would be counted.
“For the last several weeks, we’ve seen the deliberate and systematic dismantling of the United States Postal Service,” Kendrick said.
He covered the alleged removal of mail sorting machines, funding cuts, and the firing of top postal services officials in the past recent weeks, calling them a “deliberate attempt to impact the election.”
“This is absolutely unacceptable, I would say it’s unbelievable, but I don’t necessarily believe that right now,” he said.
Kendrick’s request came on the heels of another letter, sent to Ashcroft at the end of July from U.S. Postal Service Executive Vice President Thomas Marshall. Marshall listed a series of recommendations, including that voters send ballots well ahead of the deadline to ensure they are received in time to be counted.
The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Missouri is Oct. 21, less than two weeks before Election Day. Ballots must be received by the election authority by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 to be counted.
This is the first year that Missourians are able to vote by mail. Parson expanded voting options in June by signing SB 631into law, allowing for mail-in voting and changed absentee voting options in the August and November elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mail-in ballots are available by request to all registered Missouri voters.
The Missouri Legislature has been called back to Jefferson City to address a variety of measures put forth by Parson related to violent crime in the state. The Republican chief executive has already expanded the scope of special session to include concurrent jurisdiction.
So far, no special session measures put forth by the governor addresses the upcoming election.
A spokesperson for Ashcroft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This is a non-issue in Missouri. You can vote safely in person on Election Day, and we have already proven that three times in 2020 during the COVID pandemic,” Ashcroft said in a statement last week in response to the letter. “Any chance I get, if voters wish to vote absentee or by mail, I encourage them to apply early and to send in their ballot as soon as possible.”
Faleti, a veteran and former vice president of the United Way, cinched the Democratic nomination during the August primary and will face Ashcroft in the general election on Nov. 3.