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Editorial: We recommend Yinka Faleti for Missouri secretary of state

Editorial: We recommend Yinka Faleti for Missouri secretary of state

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The national GOP campaign to restrict voting across America has an enthusiastic adherent in Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. The state’s chief election official, Ashcroft has consistently promoted the Republican myth of widespread election fraud and championed a burdensome and unnecessary voter ID law that the courts found to be partly unconstitutional. In multiple other ways, this heir to a storied Republican name has put the interests of his party above those of the voters.

Ashcroft’s Democratic challenger is a far less familiar name to voters, but it’s one they should learn. Yinka Faleti is a West Point graduate and retired Army captain who went on to become an attorney and a St. Louis city prosecutor. In his campaign for secretary of state, Faleti, 44, vows to end the partisanship and refocus the office on making voting easier. We recommend Faleti in the Nov. 3 election.

Ashcroft — the 47-year-old son of John Ashcroft, the former Missouri governor, U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general — was elected in 2016 largely on the false claim that the almost nonexistent crime of voter fraud via impersonation threatened election integrity. In four years of political fights and court wrangling over the issue, Ashcroft has only ever cited one Missouri case — one — of voter impersonation. In his generally congenial meeting with the editorial board, Ashcroft gamely touted what he said is his nonpartisan commitment to making it easier for people to vote. In practice, he has done exactly the opposite and helped undermine democracy

in the process.

The secretary of state’s office is a largely administrative one that should be above partisan politics, but Ashcroft hasn’t been. When President Donald Trump convened his ludicrous voter-fraud commission in 2017 to assuage his bruised ego at having lost the popular vote, election authorities in 44 states, including many Republicans, recognized it for the sham it was and refused to participate. Ashcroft participated enthusiastically. When asked by the editorial board about Trump’s widely reported comments last week baselessly alleging the upcoming election would be rife with fraud and he might not abide by the result, Ashcroft hid behind the remarkable claim that he didn’t know what Trump had said.

Faleti, despite his lack of political experience, impressed the editorial board with his detailed knowledge of the post he seeks. And he understands the crucial moment we’re in. Faleti speaks assertively about the importance of ensuring that Missouri, and America, don’t end up with “democracy in name only” as in his native Nigeria, from which he emigrated at age 7. Efforts to hamper voting, he said, “are the beginnings of how you lose your democracy.”

Also on the ballot are Libertarian Carl Herman Freese, Constitution Party candidate Paul Venable and Green Party candidate Paul Lehmann.

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