Ashcroft Visits Union

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, left, brought personal protective equipment and other items to elections offices across the state Friday, May 15. One of his stops was in Franklin County. Pictured with Ashcroft, from left, are Franklin County Assistant Director of Elections Debra Helling, County Clerk Tim Baker and Director of Elections Jane Luechtefeld.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft admits he saw the long line outside the Union License Office, where some were not wearing masks or social distancing while waiting to get a driver’s license or registration, when he drove into town Friday, May 15.

But he said voters should expect a more organized situation when they go to polling places in November.

Ashcroft visited the Franklin County Clerk’s Office, and similar facilities in 10 other counties Friday. It was part of his effort to hand deliver items designed to make elections safer to every county in Missouri.

During Friday’s visits, which are designed to help prepare elections offices for the June 2 municipal races, Ashcroft delivered a total of 1,631 face masks, 4,275 strips to keep voters distanced, 1,710 posters and 127 bottles of sanitizer, which were made and donated by Holladay Distillery of Weston.

“We ordered so much hand sanitizer from them that we weren’t able to pick it up because we would have been carrying so much flammable liquid,” Ashcroft said.

The posters urge voters to practice six feet of social distancing in the polling place.

In addition, Franklin County polling sites will have sneeze guards between voters and poll workers. The signs are made by Ziglin Signs in Washington.

Ashcroft traveled more than 2,500 miles last week making the deliveries. A black van hauled the items to Union, while Ashcroft followed in his car.

While pointing out that he is not comparing COVID-19, which is much more likely to be fatal, and the seasonal flu, Ashcroft said November elections are always held during flu season. With the safeguards being put in place, he expects the 2020 election to be the safest the state has had.

“I feel really confident that people of the state of Missouri will be able to vote in a healthy and safe manner,” he said.

While he is open to new ideas, Ashcroft said he wants to include voter identification in any new laws. His stop in Union came the same day the state legislature approved expanded mail-in voting options, including for people 65 or older, those living in a nursing homes or those who suffer from certain conditions including chronic lung, heart, kidney or liver disease or asthma or people with compromised immune systems.

Ashcroft released a statement criticizing legislative action on Senate Bill 631, saying it stripped safeguards and voter ID provisions, though he added that his office will implement and follow the law.

The bill impacts only the August primary and November general elections.