By Nila McGinnis
As the Missouri Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft has a wide array of responsibilities. Many of his campaign promises two years ago surrounded streamlining and improving the election process for voters, and as Secretary of State, he is a key liaison to encourage voters to cast their ballots in every single election. Ashcroft spoke with the Reporter Nila McGinnis about the importance of the upcoming primary election, the new Missouri Voter ID law, and voter turnout.
Ashcroft has long realized that local elections do not average the voter turnout that they should. “Local election results will be based on what’s hot in any given county. I believe the last election averaged a 25% voter turnout, and while I can’t predict the percentage of voters that will come out in August, I can tell you that it’s going to be less than it should be. We try to talk to as many people as we can to encourage voters and remind them that local elections are important.”
Missouri’s new Voter ID law has been a hot topic this year, and Ashcroft was quick to add his thoughts on the issue. “I think that most voters will not even realize that the law has changed, because most voters already present their ID when they approach an election judge. But also, we’re going to see a handful of people who were formerly turned away be able to vote. Our tag line on this new law is that if you’re registered, you can vote – you will be able to vote, and your vote will count.”
Ashcroft next spoke on the importance of informed voters in any election. “It’s hard to make an informed decision in any election, and it does take work. People are busy raising families and working, and many don’t feel as though they have time to do the research. You can’t just go to one news source or talk to one person. You need to talk with friends and neighbors, and people that you both agree and disagree with on the issue. We have better elections when people from every walk of life come out and vote, and that’s what we hope to see.”
Finally, Ashcroft encouraged voters to come out and vote in the primary election, which will be held in Lincoln County on August 7. “The people who win primaries are the people who win the ballot in general elections. I think every election is important,but for most people, it’s probably fair to say that the most consequential actions of government are mostly at the local level. City council, alderman, zoning laws, school curriculums, and the salaries of your friends and neighbors are all decisions that are made at the local level. The Bible says that ‘as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ The more people we have that are part of our political discourse, the better off we are. The mayor today, can be your state representative tomorrow.”