Feds Threaten Oversight in at Least One Missouri County on Election Day

The Department of Justice advised a Missouri election authority that it would be “reviewing Cole County’s voting system on Election Day” just ahead of Tuesday’s midterms.

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

The email, dated November 3, 2022, was sent by Assistant US Attorney for Missouri Charles Thomas to Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer. He informed Korsmeyer, that four DOJ staff working in two teams would visit each polling station on Election Day and “have some questions” for each head election official.

Secretary Ashcroft also expressed concern about the apparent overreach in subsequent tweets.

This e-mail refers to the Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division of DOJ. The purpose of this oversight could be to ensure accessibility compliance with the ADA.

However, it is troubling that the Clerk announced the planned polling place visits without trying to coordinate or communicate with the chief electoral authority of the state. Furthermore, the DOJ’s concern about accessibility is why this review would be done on Election Day rather than in the days before it.

Secretary Ashcroft points out that the County Clerk has the power to determine who is present at the polling places. In this instance, Korsmeyer declined the invited visits.

The email also refers to the prior correspondence between Korsmeyer and the DOJ as well as information provided by him. It is possible that Korsmeyer would not object to the visits if the announcement by the DOJ was made in response to an inquiry by Korsmeyer (as some have suggested on Twitter).

Ashcroft invited the DOJ for a meeting at his office. According to his interview on NewsTalkSTL, this meeting has been set for Monday morning. After the meeting, we’ll update you with any updates.