JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill expanding the Secretary of State’s legal authority in prosecuting cases of voter fraud was advanced by a Senate committee vote on Monday.
Senate Bill 786 would allow the Missouri Secretary of State to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged voting fraud.
“The principle of one person, one vote is essential to maintaining our republic,” SB 786 sponsor Sen. Will Kraus said in a news release. “Voting fraud violates that principle and negates votes cast by legitimate voters.”
Currently, the Secretary of State’s office is limited in its ability to prosecute voter fraud cases. Potential cases under current law are referred to the local agencies in which they occur.
Such voter fraud cases can fall by the wayside, as county prosecutors would likely prioritize cases of more violent crimes.
Extending legal authority to the Secretary of State in voting fraud cases would streamline the process and prevent voting fraud crimes from falling through the cracks, Kraus said in a statement.
“Giving that office the authority to investigate and prosecute will ensure that cases of voter fraud are not overlooked in Missouri.”
That office is currently one Kraus himself is actively seeking. Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit), currently serving as a state senator, announced his candidacy for Secretary of State in July 2014.
Kraus has been one of Missouri’s most vocal crusaders for stricter voting laws. Missouri Republicans have tried for years to enact voter I.D. laws in the state, so far to no avail. They are currently pushing a voter I.D. law again this year with SB 594, another bill sponsored by Kraus.
Opponents of the bill say voter fraud is rare enough that it’s a non-issue for the state, and that the few cases that have been confirmed occurred via voter registration, which the bill would not address anyway.