Missourians for Election Integrity is by definition a grassroots effort. It is not a registered nonprofit and it is not really even an organization. At the moment it exists only as a page on the social media website Facebook.
But like other efforts that started small, Missourians for Election Integrity has big ambitions. “MEI is a grassroots effort to make sure that our elections are well run and that we fight voter fraud at every turn,” is how the effort describes its mission on Facebook.
There is one big political name, however, behind the effort — Ed Martin, the Republican challenger who lost in November against Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Democrat, in the state’s third congressional district.
Launching the effort to protect election integrity is not a case of sour grapes, Martin told Missouri Watchdog.
After calling for an investigation into problems on Election Day and after waiting almost a week to concede defeat, he said he does not believe he lost due to voter fraud. “But a lot of people were upset with the election day conduct,” Martin said. “What I decided was to try and turn this energy into caring about election integrity.”
Keough described to Missouri Watchdog how she witnessed at least three people leaving polling places after computer problems on election day. A piece of computer hardware in Jefferson City failed, preventing poll workers from accessing the electronic database designed to verify voter registration information.
After the election, Martin called for an independent investigation into the problems, requesting Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a sister of of congressman Carnahan, recuse herself from the investigation.
“I still haven’t gotten a good answer about what happened to the computers,” Martin said.
The secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment by Missouri Watchdog regarding MEI.
In addition to asking questions publicly about the election process, Martin said there are plans to check the voter registration roles and others have told him they are interested in registering voters.
MEI launched its page on Facebook over the weekend and it already has more than 100 fans and continues to grow.
“I don’t have any preconceived notions about where this may go,” Martin said. “We are going to see where the energy pulls us.”
MEI is not his sole focus, Martin said, noting that his family and his law practice come first. However, he said that he might run for public office again in the future, maybe as soon as 2012.
“I’ve had an incredible groundswell of people asking me to run again,” Martin said, adding that he might consider campaigning for a statewide elected position, or possibly even for Senate.
“I want to keep the heat on election officials and keep people focused on how important elections are,” Martin said.
“The best protection is people getting involved.”