Voter ID fraud claim sparks a clash in Columbia
COLUMBIA - Boone County's Republican clerk and the Democrat running against him have differing opinions over voter fraud.
Challenger Brianna Lennon Friday called on incumbent Taylor Burks to provide proof of voter fraud in Boone County.
Burks said Thursday the clerk's office in the past, under former clerk Wendy Noren, has seen voter fraud in the form of forged signatures and duplicated voter registrations.
Lennon, however, said this is false.
"I was very surprised to hear that there would be any of that fraud happening in Boone County," she said. "Making those kinds of allegations without providing support can undermine the confidence that the public has in our elections."
Burks' comments come after a new lawsuit that says Missouri's recently approved voter ID law is too strict.
Voters passed the bill a year ago requiring voters to present photo identification at the ballot box.
Lennon said it can only be effective against one type of fraud - impersonation.
Lennon, who was former coordinator of the Secretary of State's Elections Integrity Unit, said she has dealt with voter fraud investigations in the past, but none resembled voter impersonation.
"If voter fraud is happening right now, then we need to have evidence of that, especially if it's in-person voter fraud because that hasn't happened in Missouri," she said.
Burks said Thursday there's a real danger of people who aren't allowed to vote trying to cast a ballot.
"We've seen forged signatures in the past, we've seen instances with duplicated voter registrations that my predecessor, who is a Democrat, helped prosecute those instances right here in Boone County," he said. "We know that there are people that try to mess with the legal process.... I do know that there are always people that try to sneak by what the rules are."
Lennon said she wants to see evidence of that - if it exists.
"My concern is very much about making sure that if there are statements and allegations about voter fraud that the public be aware of them," she said.