Members of the Pettis County Pachyderm learned more about one of the seven candidates for Missouri Secretary of State as they heard from Republican Jay Ashcroft during its meeting Friday afternoon at the Best Western State Fair Inn.
Ashcroft is running against fellow Republicans Will Kraus, of Lee’s Summit, and Roi Chinn, of Kansas City, Democrats Bill Clinton Young, of Kansas City, Robin Smith, of St. Louis, MD Rabbi Alam, of Kansas City, and Libertarian Chris Morrill, of St. Louis. Current Secretary of State Jason Kander is not seeking re-election, as he is running for the U.S. Senate.
According to Ashcroft’s website, the Jefferson City native graduated from the University of Missouri at Rolla with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering Management. He then worked for a Missouri-based defense contractor, leading a team that oversaw the design, creation and quality assurance of vehicles for the Air Force. He now works with his father in the Ashcroft Law Firm after graduating from St. Louis University Law School in 2008.
“I think it is extremely important we nominate someone for Secretary of State as a Republican, and put them up against the Democrat in November, who has the qualifications and is ready from day one to be Secretary of State,” he told the small audience Friday. “And isn’t doing it for a job but is doing it to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of that office to make life in this state better for the people so they have the opportunity to make their own choices on how to live their life and be as successful as they can be.”
Ashcroft noted there are three main areas the Secretary of State is responsible for and he believes one of the most important is being the chief election official in the state. He is strongly in favor of requiring voter IDs.
“Beyond making sure everyone has the right to vote, we need to protect those votes,” he said. “Just over a year ago, I filed an initiative petition to amend the Missouri Constitution to allow a photo ID requirement for voters. It’s just a common sense thing to verify identities, to make sure people aren’t voting multiple times. We want every eligible voter to vote, but we don’t want them to vote multiple times. You shouldn’t be disadvantaged by fraud.”
Another election-related topic, Ashcroft said he will work to clarify ballot language to make sure voters know exactly what they’re voting for, giving several recent examples of amendments that didn’t offer the full picture of what was included.
“As your Secretary of State, having my experience as a professor of engineering, taking complex things and simplifying them so they’re easier to understand, and with my knowledge of the law and my legal training, I’ll make sure that when you vote that the simple ballot title language is honest and accurate and complete, because it shouldn’t be my will that’s made known on election day, it should be yours,” he said.
Ashcroft’s other focus during his time in Sedalia was on economic development, noting the office “shouldn’t be used for headlines and self-promotion. That office should be used to help the people of the state.”
His final point was about protecting the privacy of citizens, specifically protecting identity information included in conceal carry permits, giving the example of states releasing that data to the federal government.
“That sort of violation of your personal privacy should not occur. All the information on there is more than enough for identity theft and identity fraud,” he said. “We need a Secretary of State as the state is moving from hard-copy documents to electronic that can lead the way with an understanding of privacy and data protection, not just laws but best practices. … We need someone to create policies and practices to protect that data so it’s only used for the purposes it’s collected for.”
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, candidate for U.S. Representative for Missouri’s 4th congressional district, will speak at the next Pachyderm meeting at noon Friday at Best Western State Fair Inn.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.