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Kander talks campaign finance, elections


By Collin Reischman

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Secretary of State Jason Kander is new to statewide office, but doesn’t suffer from first-year jitters. Kander, a former state representatives and the youngest statewide elected official in the nation, is a rising star within the party and gaining popularity throughout the state. kander featureimage

Republicans aimed for statewide election law changes early, meaning the provisions passed in the House a few weeks ago stipulating a government issued photo ID to cast a ballot are going to land right on Kander’s doorstep, unless Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes the legislation.

But Kander has made his feelings clear. There has never been a documented case of in person voter fraud in the state of Missouri that his office is aware of. Photo ID requirements will disenfranchise students and the working poor, Kander told The Missouri Times in an interview.

“My office is always going to oppose legislation that is going to disenfranchise a single eligible voter,” Kander said. “It’s extreme and it is unfair. That said; there are states that have photo identification requirements that don’t disenfranchise voters. Idaho has a photo identification requirement but if you don’t have one, you can sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury saying you are who you say you are and lying on that document means you go to jail. It’s a strong deterrent, but it doesn’t disenfranchise a single voter.”

Kander — perhaps echoing Nixon’s own sentiments during his State of the State address — calls campaign finance law, or lack thereof in Missouri, the “true fraud in our elections.”

Laws allowing for unlimited lobbyist gifts and unlimited campaign contributions are unique in Missouri. The state remains the only state with both gifts and contributions completely unlimited, Kander said. He voiced the same concerned for campaign finance reform at Hannibal Days last weekend, when he gave a speech on campaign finance reform and the future of the Democratic Party.

Kander’s work has not focused on photo identification laws because, according to him, Republicans never approached his office about the bill. Kander’s Early Voting Commission, which issued their findings last week, was a subtle rebuke to the Republican efforts to tighten up restrictions on voting.

The commission argues that more access to early voting and absentee ballots, not less, is the solution to making Missouri elections fair and open to all. Missouri is one of only 15 states without a form of no-excuse early voting.

Kander’s commission calls for no-excuse absentee voting, satellite voting locations during presidential elections, and centrally located early-voting equipment for absentee ballots.

Kander, who served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan before receiving a law degree from Georgetown University, is an obvious candidate for future office. His performance at Hannibal Days — which most in the audience told The Missouri Times outshined Nixon — highlights the potential of the young secretary of state as a future political heavyweight.

Despite his impressive resume and clear popularity among the party faithful, Kander remains, like most elected officials, cagey about his future.

“I can tell you I’m focusing on doing everything I need to do to be an effective Secretary of State so that the people of Missouri will re-elect me to another term,” Kander said. “Beyond that, I can’t really say for certain.”