Missouri SOS Ashcroft Says No to DOJ Monitoring of Local Polls

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Cole County elections in Missouri were featured in a tweet from the Missouri Secretary of State, John Ashcroft, on Sunday. The Cole County clerk had received an email from DOJ officials on November 3 requesting information about election officials and polling locations so their "visits to each polling place" could "go smoothly." Secretary of State Ashcroft pushed back on Sunday, stating it is "inappropriate for federal agents to violate the law by intimidating Missouri voters at the polls on Election Day."

The email may have something to do with two press releases, one on October 26 and the second on November 7 detailing the plans of officials from the federal government to monitor elections in local jurisdictions. The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday it will have its hands in the November 8 General Election. It "plans to monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws in 64 jurisdictions in 24 states," according to Monday's DOJ press release. The DOJ says it will be monitoring local elections to protect the rights of voters, using the Civil Rights Division to "take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center." Personnel will be deployed from the Civil Rights Division and from U.S. Attorney's Offices as well as "monitors from the Office of Personnel Management, where authorized by federal court order." The following 64 jurisdictions were announced for monitoring:

DOJ Press Release/Feds Monitoring Local Elections/Nov. 7

Email to Cole County Clerk Confirms Federal Election Monitoring

On Sunday the following was posted by the official Twitter account of the Missouri Secretary of State who pushed back against the DOJ's plans and argued against the "intimidation of Missouri voters at the polls on Election Day" from federal officials. The Twitter post included a snapshot of an email sent to "one of [their] election authorities." The SOS asked DOJ officials to meet him at his office instead of "trying to bully a hard-working county official."

UncoverDC spoke briefly on Monday with the Executive Deputy Secretary of State, Trish Vincent who confirmed the DOJ's plans to monitor elections in 24 states. Later in the day, UncoverDC spoke with JoDonn Chaney, the media contact for SOS Ashcroft. Chaney stated that the Office of the Secretary of State had no awareness of the DOJ's plans until November 3 when the above email was forwarded to the office by Mr. Korsmeyer, the Cole County Clerk. Per Mr. Chaney:

"Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer was sent a statement on October 27th by the DOJ asking for some information. However, it wasn't until he received the email on Nov. 3 asking him to identify officials and polling location information that he decided to send a copy to us. We received a copy of that email on November 4. It was the first we knew about any of it." 

Chaney also stated the Secretary of State met with DOJ officials on Monday to discuss the matter. When the Secretary of State asked the DOJ officials whether there were any specific complaints about Cole County elections, Chaney stated the DOJ had "nothing specific to give them and no documentation of any complaints. They were very vague."

Chaney told UncoverDC that Korsmeyer has informed officials from the DOJ they will not be allowed inside the polls in Cole County but are allowed to "observe within 25 yards of the door. They will not be invited in." Chaney added that Missouri "always runs a credible election. So first and foremost that is what we intend to carry on with. Unofficial results are always out by 10 to 11:30 at night, and rarely, rarely if ever are those numbers ever changed? It's not like we're counting ballots for weeks."

Ashcroft will go live tonight on Facebook at 6 p.m. CT to field questions about tomorrow's election. Chaney told UncoverDC it was a previously planned appearance by Ashcroft.

October 26 DOJ Press Release: Plans to Protect the Vote

It may well be that October 26 DOJ press release was the predicate for the October correspondence with Korsmeyer since he received his letter the day after on the 27th. According to the press release, "the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Division, and National Security Division" are being actively recruited "to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation, or fraud in the election process, and to ensure that our elections are secure and free from foreign malign influence and interference." Normally the kinds of duties listed in this press release are enforced by local jurisdictions. Chaney confirmed that during the call.

Oct. 26 Press Release/https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-releases-information-efforts-protect-right-vote-prosecute-election-fraud

This Has Been in the Works for Awhile

It is no surprise that local election officials are receiving emails with requests to monitor their elections. UncoverDC has written multiple articles on this administration's plans to "monitor" elections in ways that may be either unusual or against the law. The DOJ may be rationalizing its actions under the cover of national security. Elections are indeed a part of CISA's critical infrastructure. That fact combined with a seemingly dogged commitment to controlling the narrative with their mis-,dis, and mal-information campaigns almost certainly underpins the DOJ decision to "monitor" local elections.

The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council’s (EIS GCC), featured in UncoverDC's column on March 10, 2022, provided a roadmap for this administration's election security plans. The article highlighted CISA's June 9 update on election integrity and the "persistent threat of MDM to election security" featured plans to work with CTCL "to engage trusted media with trusted election information." An October 7 column runs through the Biden administration playbook that seeks to link what may be innocent questions about elections with the label of "election denier." The article mentions the mobilization of the National Election Threats Task Force, covered in August, whose purpose is to help the DOJ to address "menacing and violent threats" against election workers. Lo and behold, the same type of language is also mentioned in the November 7 press release. Surely that is not a coincidence?:

"Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place). Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. These complaints should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted."

The federal push to help with elections will also recruit a limited number of National Guard troops to help with cybersecurity threats. Cybersecurity units from the National Guard will be activated in 14 states. According to Military.com, "Only 14 states will mobilize Guardsmen to help oversee cyber security for the midterm elections, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington state and West Virginia. That state active-duty mission will supplement local and federal cyber defenses, but is a very limited asset, given how little of the country will benefit. In total, only about 100 Guardsmen will be on the mission."

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