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SOS Jason Kander On Military Candidate Filing, Voter Registration And Ethics Reform

Missouri Secretary Of State

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) supports a new piece of legislation that will allow deployed military personnel to appoint a proxy to file for office for them. The bill was filed in the Senate by Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) and in the House of Representatives by Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) and Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis).

Currently, deployed military personnel can file to run for office using certified mail but they do not have the opportunity to potentially be first on the ballot, according to Kander. Candidates who file in person on the day of eligibility have their names entered into a drawing to randomly select the order they appear on the ballot. Those who file later are placed on the ballot after those who file on the first day.

“Anybody who has been around electoral politics knows that candidates put a real premium on the possibility of having their name first on the ballot,” Kander said in an interview with KRCU.

Under this new bill, a proxy can file for military personnel and give them a chance to appear towards the top of the ballot.

“Anything we can do to decrease what’s on the mind of and the distractions for folks who are overseas is helpful and it’s something that we should strive to do,” said Kander, who was an Army captain and served in Afghanistan.

The bill will have a direct impact on Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd, a lieutenant colonel in the Missouri National Guard who is currently deployed to Afghanistan. He must file for reelection in February.

“If we get this bill passed, and I believe we will early in session, his wife could go for him and be his proxy and they can draw that number and give him a chance to be first on the ballot,” Kander said.

Online Voter Registration

Towards the end of December, Kander announced that Missourians will now be able to register to vote online. Fifteen other states already allow some form of online voter registration.

“What I like about this so much is that there’s really is no other part of the process that changes,” Kander said. “The only part of the process in voter registration that has changed is the experience of the voter. We’ve just added a level of convenience.”

Kander said online registration provides an extra layer of security.

Since the Secretary of State’s office launched the online voter registration process about three weeks ago, over 550 voters have taken advantage of the service either by registering to vote or by changing their voting address.

Ethics Reform And Campaign Contributions

Kander said he hopes 2014 will be the year the Missouri legislature tackles ethics reform and campaign contributions.

“I really think this is only controversial in one place in Missouri, and that’s in the state legislature,” Kander said. “Everybody else around the state understands that when you have the worst campaign finance and ethics laws in the entire country, you have a responsibility to fix them.”

Kander said his office will announce a proposal that he is working on with Rep. Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City) who will file a bill that Kander says will take Missouri from having the worst ethics laws in the country to having the strongest ethics laws.

“It’s the most comprehensive proposal certainly that anybody has seen at least during my term in public service,” Kander said.

Any good ethics reform bill, according to Kander, must include basics like an effective limit on campaign contributions that eliminates political money laundering, must close the “revolving door” that allows legislators to leave public service and immediately pick up a job as a lobbyist, and eliminate lobbyist gifts to legislators. Kander also wants to make it illegal to obstruct investigations by the Missouri Ethics Commission.

“Our laws in this state are so lax that there is no penalty for lying to the ethics commission when they investigate a potential violation of the few ethics laws we actually have,” Kander said.