Jay Ashcroft | St. Louis Public Radio

Jay Ashcroft

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has approved a petition to allow Missouri voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday signed legislation allowing people at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus to vote absentee without needing an additional notarized statement. 

“Any Missourian affected by COVID-19 should still be able to vote, including those who are sick or considered at-risk,” Parson said in a statement. “I applaud Senator Dan Hegeman, Representative Dan Shaul, and the rest of the legislature for taking this important step, which provides Missourians with a safe and secure way to vote while still safeguarding our elections and ballot process.”

A poll worker sets out "I voted today" stickers at the St. Louis County Board Of Elections on Oct. 25, 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Under normal circumstances, Heather Robinett and Ella Jones wouldn’t be running for mayor of Ferguson right now. 

But these aren’t normal times. The coronavirus pandemic pushed the April 7 municipal and school elections to June 2. 

These contests are taking place in a radically different electoral landscape than the beginning of the year. Not only are some jurisdictions increasingly gravitating toward absentee ballots, but candidates like Robinett and Jones are using social media, direct mail and phone banking to reach out to voters for Tuesday’s election.

A voter fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on March 10, 2020.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri voters will get a chance to expand Medicaid.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced Friday that he approved the petition to put Medicaid expansion on the November ballot.

Backers submitted more than 340,000 petition signatures, well over the number needed to qualify for a proposed constitutional amendment.

The amendment would expand Medicaid to people making 138% of the federal poverty level, which is a little less than $18,000 a year.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
The Missouri Secretary of State.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said today on St. Louis on the Air that he is convinced the “plain language” of state law does not allow voters to cast an absentee ballot simply because they fear the coronavirus. 

“There is no mention of someone that is scared of becoming sick … in which case it would not apply to a fear of the coronavirus,” he said.

But he vowed to have personal protective equipment in place for upcoming elections — and said he will not repeat Wisconsin’s mistakes. 

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, in a photo taken at St. Louis Public Radio on June 28, 2018
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is asking about 40 employees who have their own offices to return to work on Monday, one week after a statewide stay-at-home order was issued by Gov. Mike Parson. 

In an email obtained by St. Louis Public Radio, Trish Vincent, executive deputy secretary of state, said Thursday that “those who have offices should return to work” next week “unless otherwise directed.” The email goes on to suggest employees use the handicap entrance and activate the button that opens the door with their elbows to enter the office building.

A voter fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church on March 10, 2020.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says lawmakers would be amenable to passing election legislation aimed at responding to coronavirus fears — after municipal elections were moved recently from April to June.

What changes would actually be made is still under discussion. Some ideas include broadening the use of absentee ballots and implementing a vote-by-mail program.

Gary Taber cheers while watching early election results at a watch party for Biden supporters at John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Garden in St. Louis. March 10, 2020
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:20 p.m. with all Missouri precincts reporting and comments from candidate supporters

Former Vice President Joe Biden won Missouri’s Democratic presidential primary by 26 percentage points Tuesday, beating Bernie Sanders in every county in the state the Vermont senator nearly won four years ago.

Biden’s Missouri victory is a continuation of momentum for the former vice president, whose campaign was in the doldrums until a string of victories over the past couple of weeks made him the frontrunner. He also won in Michigan and Mississippi on Tuesday, delivering a potentially insurmountable boost to his campaign.

Rachel Dalske, of Florissant, votes at the St. Louis County Board Of Elections on Oct. 25, 2018.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Election officials in the city of St. Louis and St. Charles County saw a rise in voter registration ahead of the March 10 presidential primary.

A major reason for that spike is the increased popularity of Missouri’s online voter registration system, which is getting a big promotion from popular social media outlets like Facebook, officials said.

Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks during Thursday's televised senatorial debate. Oct. 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with comments from Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit critical of Josh Hawley’s tenure as attorney general, with the Democrat questioning how some of the GOP’s official’s campaign consultants interacted with governmental employees.

The audit, though, states that Galloway’s office “cannot conclude any laws were violated” from the interactions between the consultants and staff — which became a flashpoint near the end of Hawley’s successful 2018 contest against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. And attorneys for Hawley, who has sharply criticized Galloway for how she conducted the audit, took issue with the audit’s conclusions.

voxefxtm | Flickr

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling gutted the state’s voter ID law approved by voters in 2016, but Republicans in the statehouse are looking to restore it. 

State Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, has filed a measure that he hopes would withstand a court challenge. 

The original law approved by voters allowed three methods to cast a ballot. Voters could show a photo ID; another form of identification, like a utility bill, but were then required to sign an affidavit; or they could cast a provisional ballot. The provisional vote would count once they returned to show ID or election workers matched their signatures with a past vote.

Jay Ashcroft
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and at least one state lawmaker are trying to educate the public about false media reports.

“Some of the fake stuff online looks more real than the real stuff,” Ashcroft said at a town hall meeting in south St. Louis County earlier this month. “Our form of government is dependent on educated voters.”

Ashcroft said he intends to distribute information about how to distinguish reliable news reports from misinformation at high school voter drives that his office conducts. 

Supporters of a referendum on House Bill 126 protest in downtown St. Louis on Friday afternoon.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:46 a.m. Aug. 23 with a comment from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft

Opponents of Missouri’s eight-week abortion ban have dropped their efforts to gather the needed 100,000 signatures to place a referendum on the November 2020 ballot. They claim Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft did not give them enough time to do so by Wednesday, when the law will take effect.

The abortion-rights coalition No Bans On Choice and the ACLU of Missouri have instead turned their attention to making sure state officials cannot block future referendums. On Thursday, they filed a lawsuit against Ashcroft, a Republican, alleging that the laws that allowed him to delay releasing the referendum’s language violate the state’s constitution.

Protesters with the advocacy group No Bans On Choice demonstrate against HB 126 in downtown St. Louis on Aug. 2.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday with Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's comments

The abortion-rights group No Bans on Choice faces an "impossible" task to collect enough signatures on a petition that would allow voters to overturn a Missouri law that bans most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, officials from the committee said Wednesday. 

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on Wednesday released the wording for the ballot initiative after a months-long legal battle. 

American Civil Liberties Union representatives say it’s unlikely they would collect the 100,000 signatures they need to place a referendum on the ballot before the law goes into effect on Aug. 28.

Abortion rights activists on Thursday gathered near the Gateway Arch to protest the potential closure of Missouri's only abortion provider. They marched to the Wainwright State Office Building, where some activists went inside. May 30, 2019
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court won’t reconsider an appeals court decision that effectively delays the ACLU of Missouri from gathering signatures to overturn Missouri’s recently passed eight-week abortion ban.

It’s a move that places the ACLU of Missouri’s referendum in serious jeopardy, because there may not be enough time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures to spark a 2020 election.

Sticky notes left by protesters outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on 3:35 p.m. on Wednesday with rejection of transfer.

A Missouri appeals court ruled Monday that a referendum aimed at overturning a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy can proceed.

The court reversed Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rejection of the referendum.

While the ruling revives an effort from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri to scrap the abortion ban, supporters won’t have a lot of time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures. And there could be more legal fights to come about whether a provision that goes into effect right away will derail the referendum in the future.

Sticky notes left by protesters outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court ruled Monday that a referendum aimed at overturning a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy can proceed.

The court overturned Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rejection of the ballot initiative.

While the ruling revives an effort from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri to scrap the abortion ban, supporters won’t have a lot of time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures. And there could be more legal fights to come about whether a provision that goes into effect right away will derail the referendum in the future.

Sticky notes left by protesters outside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court ruled Monday that a referendum aimed at overturning a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy can proceed.

The court overturned Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rejection of the ballot initiative.

While the ruling revives an effort from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri to scrap the abortion ban, supporters won’t have a lot of time to gather roughly 100,000 signatures. And there could be more legal fights to come about whether a provision that goes into effect right away will derail the referendum in the future.

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Sen. Jill Schupp returns to Politically Speaking to talk about the aftermath of the 2019 legislation session, which included passage of a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy and other aspects of Gov. Mike Parson’s workforce development agenda.

The Creve Coeur Democrat is serving her second term in the Missouri Senate. Her senate district includes St. Louis County cities like Creve Coeur, Town and Country, Maryland Heights, Olivette and Ladue.

Maia Hayes joined dozens of abortion rights advocates downtown in protesting the potential shuttering of Missouri's last abortion provider. May 30, 2019
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4 p.m. on Thursday with the filing of the ACLU's lawsuit:

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft rejected bids to place a newly signed abortion ban up for a statewide vote in 2020, citing the fact that a provision in the measure goes into effect right away.

At least one group seeking to overturn the eight-week ban has gone to court against the GOP statewide official’s action.

Gov. Mike Parson speaks at Ranken Technical College during a day-long tour of St. Louis on Sept. 7, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is expected to soon name a new state attorney general, now that incumbent Josh Hawley has been elected to the U.S. Senate.

And his decision could set up a political version of musical chairs.

Hawley's vacancy will be the second that Parson will fill since he took office less than six months ago.

Parson named then-state Sen. Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor after Parson was elevated to governor, following the June resignation of fellow Republican Eric Greitens.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill shake hands following Thursday night's Senate candidate debate in St. Louis. Oct. 18, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For Missouri Democrats, tomorrow is judgment day.

Voters will decide if the last two Democratic statewide officials remain in their posts. If U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and state Auditor Nicole Galloway prevail, it could provide a jolt for a party seeking to rebound after the disaster of 2016.

Under the new law, registered voters can bring one of four IDs to the polling place: a state-issued driver's license, a state-issued non-driver's license, a U.S. passport or a military ID.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 23 with clarified ruling — A Cole County judge has made it clear that Missouri voters who do not have photo identification will not have to sign a sworn statement in order to vote in November.

Judge Richard Callahan on Tuesday clarified that an earlier court opinion throwing out the sworn statement applied to election officials in the state’s 114 counties and the city of St. Louis. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft had asked for the clarification in an effort to avoid confusion on Election Day.

Updated Sept. 24 with appeal denied — A ballot measure that would change Missouri's ethics laws and redistricting process will go in front of voters in November, an appeals court panel ruled Friday. And the state Supreme Court confirmed as much Monday in denying an appeal.  

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, in a photo taken at St. Louis Public Radio on June 28, 2018
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft – who’s in the midst of a flurry of pre-election activity.

A Republican, Ashcroft was elected during the state’s GOP election landslide of 2016. That year, Missouri voters also approved a photo-ID requirement at the polls.

Missouri candidates line the hallways at the secretary of state's office in Jefferson City for the first day of filing for office for the August and November elections.
Erin Achenbach | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The coffee flowed, sweet rolls abounded and the candidates flooded in.

Tuesday marks the kickoff of candidate filing in Missouri for the August and November elections. And in Missouri’s state capital, it’s a tradition for candidates to pack the secretary of state’s building to try to become the first on the ballot for their particular office.

Denise Lieberman with the Advancement Project speaks at the beginning of a news conference on voter rights Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in front of the Missouri History Museum.
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:15 p.m. with comment from St. Clair County state's attorney — President Donald Trump’s election commission is bent on restricting Americans’ right to vote, members of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition said Tuesday.

The statements came the same day the Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity met in New Hampshire. The commission, headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was set up in May. It asked states to send in voter registration records.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with ACLU comment — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law.

More than 1,000 union members gathered Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in the Missouri Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. with law suspended — With the submission of more than 300,000 signatures Friday, Missouri’s right-to-work law won't go into effect Aug. 28 and its fate likely will be put to voters in 2018.

The law is suspended, Secretary of State spokeswoman Maura Browning told St. Louis Public Radio. The office still needs to verify that at least 100,000 of the signatures are from registered voters — the minimum to force a statewide vote in November 2018.

She said the count will take weeks and that if there isn't enough, the law will be put in place.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Tues., Aug. 8, 2017, to notarize and turn in petitions to force a statewide vote over Missouri’s right-to-work law.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

(Revised Aug. 10 to clarify the activities of Americans for Prosperity) --It appears that Missouri labor groups will be able to block the state’s new right-to-work law from taking effect Aug. 28.

They’ve collected more than 300,000 notarized signatures in the fight to force a statewide vote over the law in November 2018, state AFL-CIO president Mike Louis and other union leaders say. That’s more than three times the number needed.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri's Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on the program for the third time.

The Republican statewide official was sworn into office in January. He’s in charge of overseeing Missouri’s elections, writing ballot summary language for initiative petitions, registering corporations and regulating financial advisers and brokers.

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