Democratic secretary of state hopeful Jason Kander is up with his second television ad of the fall campaign, and for the first time he is directly drawing contrasts with his Republican opponent, Shane Schoeller.
Much like his earlier ad, Kander is highlighting his military service in Afghanistan. But this time, he's using it to criticize Schoeller's support of legislation that would have restricted absentee voting.
The majority of Schoeller's bill, which cleared a legislative committee earlier this year but never came before the full House of Representatives, would have mandated voters provide proof that they they are U.S. citizens when they register to vote.
However, the bill also included a provision that would have prohibited anyone voting absentee from returning the completed ballot by mail. Instead, ballots could only be returned by a surrogate who had been designated in writing when the ballot was requested. Military personnel serving in combat zones would be allowed to fax or email ballots to Missouri officials, through a U.S. Department of Defense program.
Critics — including two Republican lawmakers who were running against Schoeller for GOP nomination for secretary of state — argued that the move would have made it difficult for members of the military serving overseas to cast an absentee ballot.
Schoeller said at the time that the provision was being mischaracterized and his intention was not to disenfranchise military voters. But since the idea had proved so controversial, and because there was so little time left the legislative session when the bill was introduced, he removed the absentee voting portion from the bill.
Kander said that while serving overseas he "was able to vote by mailing in an absentee ballot. Shane Schoeller wants to take away that right for soldiers serving today."
Schoeller recently told the St. Louis Beacon that his opponent's assertion is "completely false."
A recent poll conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star showed Schoeller with a slight lead that was within the 4 percentage point margin of error. Sixteen percent of respondents were undecided.