Missouri’s Secretary of State is making a splash about a drop in the state budget bucket, drained by House Republicans. Jason Kander is upset with the Missouri House of Representatives vote to strip additional funding from his office’s Elections Integrity Unit. Kander started the unit last year after he was sworn in to office. “I am disappointed that Republicans in the Missouri House of Representatives are less interested in protecting the integrity of our elections than I am. I started the Elections Integrity Unit to investigate both voter fraud and voter access issues,” said Kander. The Republican-led house approved an amendment on March 25 to remove $79,900 from the budget outlined in House Bill 2012. The bill appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of statewide elected officials, the Judiciary, Office of the State Public Defender, and General Assembly. That budget includes the Secretary of State’s office, and the $79,900 Kander requested for hiring two new full-time employees (FTEs) for the Elections Integrity Unit.
The amendment stripping the additional funding for the unit passed 102-47. At the time of the vote, the Missouri House had 163 members – 108 Republicans and 52 Democrats. At the time, there were three vacant seats in the House. In the vote on the amendment to HB 2012, all 102 Republicans present voted for the amendment. All 47 Democrats present voted against it. Six Republicans and five Democrats were absent for the vote. Since the vote was taken, Rep. Rory Ellinger, (D) St. Louis County, died of cancer, creating another vacancy in the House.
The unanimous Republican vote upsets Kander because of an earlier unanimous vote on HB 2012. “It has been a great success, which is one of the reasons why the House Budget Committee voted unanimously to fund the unit,” said Kander.
In fact, 20 Republicans on the House Budget committee did vote for HB 2012, including the additional money for the Elections Integrity Unit. That vote took place March 13, when the committee of 20 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted unanimously to give the bill a “do pass” recommendation. A staff member for committee chairman Rick Stream, (R) Kirkwood, confirmed that the committee voted 29 in favor, none against.