JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (MDN) – Secretary of State Jason Kander established a new program he said is meant to protect Missouri elections and Missouri voters’ rights Tuesday.

Kander said the creation of the Elections Integrity Unit is formalizing something his office has always done.

“When the unit receives credible complaints, it will investigate them, and work with local election authorities to resolve any issues,” Kander said. “When appropriate, the unit will refer complaints to law enforcement.”

Appropriations Chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said Kander has yet to mention the unit to him. Schaefer said he does not know whether investigating voting complaints is under Kander’s jurisdiction.

“Generally, most of that authority would lie with the Attorney General’s office,” he said.

But Kander said his office has jurisdiction to investigate voting complaints. His staff can handle the number of complaints they are currently receiving. Kander said that may change during the legislative session.

Kander’s spokesperson Laura Swinford said the Elections Integrity Unit website shows completed reviews of voting issues and will make the group’s referrals and reviews accessible to the public.

Before creating the official group, the Secretary of State’s office completed nine reviews since 2010 regarding improper voting registration, absentee voting and other election law violations.

Complaints can be filed over the phone or on the Secretary of State’s website.

Another group, the Missouri Ethics Commission, investigates campaign finance violations.

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