COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Boone County Pachyderm Club and Boone County Muleskinners hosted a bipartisan voter education forum last week focusing on the voting process, regulations and election security.
The Show Me the Vote event was held at the Knights of Columbus and attendees heard from panelists Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Missouri Elections Co-Director Chrissy Peters, Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon and Cooper County Clerk Sarah Herman.
Event organizers worked for months to set up the event with individuals from both sides of the political aisle and had 80-90 physical attendees, while several others tuned in via Zoom. One organizer, Anthony Lupo, told The Heartlander that one of the main goals of the event was to break down the barriers between both parties and “get to know each other as neighbors again.”
The panelists fielded questions from attendees over various aspects of elections, voter registration, election security, anticipated voter fraud and the laws and regulations in place regarding elections.
Ashcroft expressed deep appreciation for the bipartisan nature of the event and applauded its successful turnout. He also applauded poll workers, saying it is “one of the most important and consequential ways that you can participate not only in voting, but making sure other people can vote too.”
“You know the last line of defense to make sure our elections run well? It’s you all. It’s your neighbors, the people you worship with, the people your kids play sports with, who you see at the grocery store that work the polls. Please, be excited to be a poll worker. It’s hard work, you have to get up early, but it is well worth it.”
Ashcroft went on to discuss the Secretary of State’s role as Missouri’s Chief Elections Official and described the election process. He discussed Missouri’s “decentralized” approach to conducting elections and explained that each election authority can decide what works best for their jurisdiction. Ashcroft said recent efforts from his office include trying to do a better job with modernizing the statewide voter registration system and updating cyber security to protect voters’ personal information.
Peters talked about her experiences as the Co-Director of Missouri Elections and the working relationship between the Secretary of State’s office and the local election authorities. She explained that their office provides information and guidance for local election authorities as well as certifying voter and candidate information.
Lennon and Herman both discussed what their roles include as county clerks and what election days look like for them. One of the questions asked to the clerks was about how they are able to set aside their own political affiliations to ensure a fair and safe election. Both Herman and Lennon agreed that they have to have a mindset when fulfilling their duties that puts the law and election integrity above any of their own opinions or affiliations.
Fielding a question about the security of Missouri’s elections, Ashcroft referenced his support for a few pieces of legislation from this year that were aimed at securing elections throughout the state, namely HB 738. He expressed his faith in the integrity of the state’s elections, and that his office continually works with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to prevent hacks or intrusions by third parties with malicious intent.
With the positive turnout, healthy discussions from both sides of the aisle and an impressive panel of speakers, organizers acclaimed the event as a “huge success” and say there is no doubt there will be another such event.