The results of the April 3 municipal elections in Clark County could face a challenge.
As reported last night, a computer glitch caused some voters in some precincts to be given the wrong ballot.
According to Clark County Clerk Jena Church, a new voting system was used for Tuesday’s election, which used tablet devices to verify voter registrations, and told poll workers which ballot to give voters. According to Church, she updated a number of registrations with new 911 addresses, and then updated the tablets again, but that inadvertently changed the ballot settings, resulting in an unknown number of voters getting the wrong ballot for their voting district.
A preliminary review of the computers by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office didn’t explain the problem, nor did it identify how many voters may have received the wrong ballot. The only races effected were the Ambulance Board (both districts), Revere Alderman, Wayland Alderman, and the Nursing Home District. All others, including the county-wide Nursing Home tax, were not effected.
Church was instructed by the Secretary of State’s office to certify the ballot as she normally would, which will take place on Friday, April 6.
Missouri statues address election problems in Sections 115.533, 115.577 and 115.593. They are shown below.
115.533. Procedure after petition filed. — 1. Immediately after a petition is filed, the clerk of the circuit court shall issue a summons upon the petition to the contestee, returnable by the day designated by the circuit court to the circuit court. The summons shall be served in any county of the state in the same manner provided for service of process in civil actions. If the contestee cannot be found within two days, the summons shall be served by leaving the summons and a copy of the petition at the residence address shown on the contestee’s declaration of candidacy and by posting the summons in a conspicuous place in the office of the clerk of the circuit court.
2. Immediately after the petition is filed, the clerk of the circuit court shall send by certified or registered mail a certified copy of the petition to the officer responsible for issuing the statement announcing the results of the contested election and to each election authority responsible for conducting the election in any area where an alleged irregularity occurred. All officers and election authorities so notified shall immediately suspend all action on the office until the contest has been determined.
3. Not later than four days after the petition is filed, the contestee may file an answer to the petition, specifying reasons why his nomination should not be contested. If the contestee wishes to contest the validity of any votes given to the contestant, he shall set forth in his answer the votes he wishes to contest, and the facts he will prove in support of such contest and shall pray leave to produce his proof.
115.577. Time in which election contest may be filed. — Not later than thirty days after the official announcement of the election result by the election authority, any person authorized by section 115.553 who wishes to contest the election for any office or on any question provided in section 115.575 shall file a verified petition in the office of the clerk of the appropriate circuit court. The contestant shall only be required to file one petition with the circuit court for each election contest regardless of the number of counties within the court’s jurisdiction. The petition shall set forth the points on which the contestant wishes to contest the election and the facts he will prove in support of such points, and shall pray leave to produce his proof. The circuit court in which the petition is filed shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all matters relating to the contest and may issue appropriate orders to all election authorities in the area in which the contested election was held.
115.593. New election ordered, when. — If the court or legislative body trying a contested election determines there were irregularities of sufficient magnitude to cast doubt on the validity of the initial election, it may order a new election for the contested office or on the contested question. The order shall set the date of the election and shall be sent by the clerk of the court or the secretary of the senate or the chief clerk of the house of representatives, as the case may be, to each election authority responsible for conducting the special election. In its order, the court or legislative body shall specify the name of each candidate for the office to be voted on at the special election, or the ballot title of the question to be voted on at the special election, and the election shall be conducted and the votes counted as in other elections. Notice of the election shall be given in such manner as the court or legislative body directs. The person receiving the highest number of votes at the special election shall be deemed elected and entitled to assume office, or the question submitted at the special election shall be deemed approved if a majority of the votes at the special election are cast in favor of the question.
According to Church, any candidate in the affected districts, or any voter in the affected district who received an incorrect ballot may file a complaint to the Circuit Clerk, Kim Schantz within 30 days of certification. A judge will review the complaint and decide if there is enough evidence to order a new election.
If so ordered, the cost of the election will fall on the election authority, in this case, Clark County. Tuesday’s election cost approximately $12,000, and a special election would cost less.