A state House investigation of what went wrong in St. Louis County during last week’s municipal elections is underway.
St. Louis County election officials said two computer databases wouldn’t talk to each other, and there wasn’t enough time between the March primary and the April municipal election to reprogram touch voting machines. Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) said that’s what lawmakers were told led to voters being disenfranchised at more than 60 polling places last week, and he and other lawmakers say someone should lose a job.
“You have one job, which is to conduct an election, and to make sure that ballots are delivered so that people can vote,” said Dogan. “There’s no remedy for those people to be able to vote – no practical remedy. Only ten people were able to show up later and vote, so there have to be serious consequences when something like that occurs.”
Lawmakers at the hearing, held jointly by a task force headed by Dogan and by the House Committee on Urban Issues, were told officials are still investigating who was responsible for some of last week’s breakdowns.
Dogan said several legislative changes could be considered as a result of those problems.
“The testimony we heard today, essentially there were two municipalities in the county that were kind of responsible for them having to go back and re-draw up their matrix of polling places because they submitted their candidate lists later than allowed, so there really need to be severe consequences for any municipality that doesn’t do their job in that way,” said Dogan, who said one legislative fix could be to create such penalties.
Another could be to change the dates on which elections are held, since some of the issues seemed related to officials having to shift from the Presidential Primary in March to the municipal elections in April.
“The fact that you did have less than 30 days between the March and April elections is something that we would not like to see again,” said Dogan.
With only four full weeks of the legislative session, Dogan says any changes will likely have to wait for another year.
Secretary of State Jason Kander did not testify to the group but Dogan still wants to hear from him.
“He’s suggested that election board chairs in St. Louis County be elected rather than appointed and I’d like to get his thoughts on some other constructive ways that we can move forward on this,” said Dogan.
Some Democrats say Kander’s office had no authority in the matter, and the calls for him to speak to the committee are purely political as he runs to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
The House will next week hold another hearing on the St. Louis County election issues.