The Missouri House has endorsed a bill that would give subpoena power to the secretary of state to investigate alleged violations of election laws.
The legislation given initial approval Wednesday would allow the secretary of state to subpoena ballots, computer programs and other materials related to voting as part of an investigation into election law violations.
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft already has authority to conduct election-related investigations but not to issue subpoenas.
Republican lawmakers who supported the legislation said subpoena power is necessary to effectively carry out those investigations.
Some Democrats who opposed the bill said it was unnecessary because local prosecutors are the ones who would pursue any charges for election law violations.
The bill needs another House vote to move to the Senate.