Feds Threaten Oversight in One MIssori County

In the run-up to Tuesday's midterm elections, the Department of Justice has advised an Missouri elections authority that it “will be reviewing Cole County's voting program on site on Election Day.”

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft tweeted regarding the DOJ email on Sunday afternoon.

“In an email that was sent on the 3rd of November 2022, assistant US Attorney of the Western District of Missouri Charles Thomas advised the Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer that four DOJ employees, who were working in two teams, would be present at every polling location at Election Day and would “have a few questions” to the election official in charge at each polling place.”

In a subsequent tweet, Secretary Ashcroft expressed concern about the apparent overreach:

“The email refers to an organization called the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. The purpose of the oversight might be to make sure that there is ADA compliance in the area of accessibility.”

But the announcement of scheduled visits to polling stations to the Clerk without trying to coordinate or communicate with the principal state authority for elections is a bit disconcerting. Furthermore, if the DOJ's priority is accessibility, why does this examination be carried out during Election Day, rather than during the weeks preceding it?

As Secretary Ashcroft mentions, the County Clerk has the power to decide who is present at the polling places which is why, in this instance, Korsmeyer has declined the planned visit.

The email also refers to previous communications between Korsmeyer in the direction of the DOJ and the information that he provided (presumably in the event that the DOJ's announcement was a response to a request or inquiry for review from Korsmeyer as some users on Twitter have suggested) the lawyer would not have a problem with the announcement.

Ashcroft has invited the DOJ to come to his office. According to his interview with NewsTalkSTL, the meeting is scheduled for later Monday morning. We'll update you on any information regarding the story after the meeting.

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