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State election officials block federal oversight of Cole County polling locations

COLE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Department of Justice asked to monitor Cole County polling locations Tuesday while people vote on Nov. 8 due to complaints it received.

The request was not received well by Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer or Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

The DOJ has monitored how local elections are run since the passage of the Voter Rights Act in 1965. This year, the DOJ is looking into 64 voting jurisdictions within 24 states.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating voting practices in the red states.

Ashcroft's office shared on Twitter an email between Korsmeyer and Charles Thomas with the U.S. Department of Justice. In the email, Thomas was requesting to have four staff members from the DOJ observe Cole County polling locations on Election Day.

In the email, Thomas said he's working with the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ to review Cole County's voting practices. He also asked to meet at Korsmeyer's office on Monday, the day before the election.

A meeting between all three parties was called Monday morning to discuss the request.

In the meeting, the DOJ did not provide the nature of the complaints, according to a news release from Ashcroft's office. Ashcroft also told the DOJ it does not have the jurisdiction or authority to monitor the local election without an invitation.

"If you're really trying to take care of complaints, don't you explain the complaint to the people that have the authority to do that?" Ashcroft said during a Facebook Live question-and-answer livestream on Monday.

The DOJ said it will not reveal why it chose to investigate Cole County or the nature of the complaints. A DOJ spokesman said it's against department policy to share that information during an ongoing investigation.

Despite the meeting, DOJ officials will still monitor the election in Cole County outside of voting locations.

The DOJ has monitored Missouri polling locations in prior years. In 2016, it looked at polls in St. Louis.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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