No new election in House District 102, recount looms

  

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Despite a polling location opening 90 minutes late for the August primary, a judge will not order a new election to select Democratic and Republican candidates for State Representative in the 102nd District.

St. Charles County Circuit Judge Rick Zerr stated in his 12-page order that the court was not “firmly convinced that there were irregularities of sufficient magnitude to cast doubt on the validity of the initial election.”

In HD 102 the primary elections for both parties were decided by less than 15 votes. Republican Bryan Cooper lost to former state Rep. Ron Hicks by four votes and Democratic Gary Wester lost to John Foster by 13 votes.

Since both races were within one-half of one percentage point, they are entitled to a recount by local election authorities. Maura Browning, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Cooper and Wester have requested a recount.

But the two candidates had also sought to have the courts invalidate the primary results due to the key-snafu that prevented the Monticello Clubhouse polling place in O’Fallon from opening at the proper time. The St. Charles County election authorities did not pick up the keys to the clubhouse prior to the election which resulted in the polling place opening 90-minutes late.

Cooper and Wester argued that because of this voters were disenfranchised and prevented from casting a ballot.

But Zerr ruled against ordering a new election, citing that the move “is appropriate [only] where the validity of the entire election is under suspicion” because a “new election tosses aside the aggregate of the citizens’ votes, both those properly and improperly cast.”

“Based upon the greater weight of the credible evidence present to the Court, the Court is not firmly convinced that there were irregularities of sufficient magnitude to cast doubt on the validity of the initial election to choose the party candidates in the Primary Elections held for both the Democratic and Republican candidates for State Representative in the 102nd District,” Zerr wrote in his judgement.  

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.