The Missouri Capitol. (Photo by Jason Hancock/Missouri Independent)


Beauty pageants have fallen out of favor, especially ones where women strut about in swimsuits.

There’s a statewide “beauty pageant” we hold every four years in Missouri that Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft wants to end, but that I think we should preserve.

Ashcroft and his fellow Republicans in the legislature want to do away with what he calls our own “beauty pageant” — the Missouri presidential primary, and transition into a caucus system similar to one used in Iowa.

He says the Missouri presidential primary is a waste of money — roughly $7 million — because the results of the election have not been binding on the political parties.

The death of the presidential primary in Missouri currently hangs in the balance. It’s part of a much larger bill passed in May by Republicans lawmakers.

The 58-page bill was OK’d in the waning hours of the session. Some lawmakers, even Republicans, failed to realize it would not only require a photo ID to vote, which Republicans favor, but would also end the state’s presidential primary.

Republicans say that in general the many provisions in the bill will increase voting integrity and transparency.

Democrats say it’s an attempt to make it harder for people to vote, especially people of color and older people, and that even Ashcroft has said the 2020 election in Missouri was secure.

The bill also would require that voting and vote tabulating machines not connect to the internet or connect to another device that is connected to the internet.

It remains to be seen if Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican, signs the bill into law or vetoes it. If he does nothing, the bill becomes law anyway 45 days after the legislative session ended (which was May 13.)

I tried to check with Parson’s office on the governor’s intentions. But Monday was a federal and state holiday.

Reader: “Never been to a caucus”

The Missouri presidential primary is in February; it’s been an on-again and off-again event over the years.

Missouri Democrats established the presidential primary in 1986 to raise the profile of then-U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-St. Louis County, who was running for the White House.

Missouri used presidential caucuses in 1992 and 1996, but has held primaries since 2000.

Reader Sue Herring, of Springfield, informed me the bill included the provision to end the presidential primary.

“I’ve voted in every presidential primary and every presidential election since I was 18,” she wrote. “I’ve never seen a caucus, never been to a caucus, and I don’t expect I would enjoy it. I think a caucus system leaves decisions to a small portion of the voters, retirees, extremists.

“I don’t believe this is the time for our state to revise our laws so that fewer people participate in our elections,” she wrote to me. “If we are going to save our democracy (and sadly I am not being hyperbolic) we are going to need as many voters as possible.”

I agree. This is not a good time to end our presidential primary.

Regarding photo ID, I’ve never really understood why obtaining a photo ID, which could be a non-driver’s license from the Department of Revenue, is a problem. It seemed an easy thing, but not so easy during COVID.

At the same time, I don’t believe the true objective of photo ID is to prevent voter fraud because I don’t believe that’s a problem.

Especially now.

Many Ozarkers say they want photo ID to prevent voter fraud while they turn a blind eye to President Trump’s blatant attempt to overturn a legitimate election while being told repeatedly by members of his own staff, campaign, family and the courts that his claims of fraud were untrue and without merit.

That’s somehow not a problem but you want to make sure an 88-year-old has a photo ID?

Keep our presidential primary; veto the bill, governor.

We need people going to the polls now more than ever.

Even call it a “beauty pageant,” if you want.

But fear not, I guarantee Joe Biden will not be campaigning in the “Show Me State” in a swimsuit. No voter, Republican or Democrat, wants to see that.

This is Pokin Around column No. 47.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin