Accusations of “rigged” elections have been circulating in the media lately thanks to statements from Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump. The Pettis County Clerk’s office has gotten dozens of calls from citizens asking about the election process, sparked by what they’ve been hearing, and Clerk Nick La Strada has assured voters they have nothing to worry about in Pettis County.
“I can’t speak for Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis. I can only speak for Pettis County, but voters can rest assured everyone in the nation who works with the election office is working together to make democracy fair to best of their ability,” La Strada said Wednesday.
La Strada said one of the main questions he’s received is about voter fraud.
“Mainly a lot of them is the voter fraud, the fact that people when they get registered to vote, are they legal citizens?” La Strada said. “Absolutely they are, they have to go through a verification process. They have to be verified through the Social Security office and the Department of Revenue. If there are voters that do not get verified we have to send them a letter regarding their voter status. In our county we have the tools and procedures to make sure people are properly registered.”
Some have asked about the possibility of a rigged election after hearing rumors of foreign countries supposedly trying to do so. La Strada pointed out that Pettis County uses paper ballots and they are put through a machine that is not connected to the Internet.
“This is a very political race but here in the clerk’s office we’re the election authority, we make sure they have the correct registration and get correct ballots out,” La Strada said. “We do our best to give all of our voters out here the red carpet treatment, we always have and we will continue to do that. … I’ve been saying this for almost six years, I take a lot of pride in this democracy process because this is what our country is built on.”
The deadline for voter registration in Missouri for the Nov. 8 general election has passed, but voters can still update their address or last name if needed. For those citizens who have moved within Pettis County since the last time they registered, they can update their address even on Election Day, although La Strada encouraged citizens to make the change early, due to expected high voter turnout.
Missouri does not require voters to present a photo ID at their polling location — although there is a ballot measure Nov. 8 asking Missourians if that requirement should exist — but La Strada said bringing either a driver’s license or voter registration card can speed up the process.
“Reasons being we use the poll pads, everyone is aware of them, it makes the process easier and efficient for poll workers and voters and they love them,” La Strada explained. “(The poll pads) can only scan a voter ID card or a driver’s license. If they bring another ID, a utility bill, (poll workers) will just have to manually look (the voter) up by name.”
La Strada added that all voters registered in Pettis County should have already received their election reminder card, which serves as their voter registration ID. If a citizen believes they have registered but haven’t received their reminder, they should contact La Strada’s office.
For those citizens who can’t make it to the polls Nov. 8, absentee voting is still available. Citizens have until Nov. 2 to request an absentee ballot be mailed to them, or they can absentee vote at La Strada’s office on the second floor of the Pettis County Courthouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. La Strada and his staff will also open the office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Saturday, Nov. 5 for absentee voting.
So far, La Strada said absentee voting in Pettis County has been “phenomenal,” looking on par with absentee voting in the 2008 general election, which saw a roughly 70 percent voter turnout on Election Day.
For more information or to view your ballot online, visit pettiscomo.com, search “Pettis County Elections Office” on Facebook, or call the Clerk’s office at 660-826-5000 ext. 918 or La Strada’s cell phone at 660-281-7767.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.