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Morning headlines - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Traffic fatalities spike in Mo. after six years of decline

Traffic fatalities in Missouri climbed nearly 20 percent through the first six months of this year, the first increase after six years of decline.

The state recorded 375 deaths this year, compared to 313 in 2011. The biggest increases came in southern and central Missouri, while the St. Louis area saw a small drop in fatal accidents.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says accidents where cars swerved over the center line or off the road were the most common. The state police commander says two-thirds of those killed weren't wearing seatbelts.

St. Charles County teacher accused of taping students while showering

The Fort Zumwalt School District says a teacher on administrative leave after being accused of child pornography may have secretly videotaped male fifth grades who were undressing for showers while camping.

Superintendent Bernard DuBray outlined his concerns about 38-year-old Matt Hansen in a letter he sent home to parents on Monday.

Hansen is a middle school math teacher who was assisting with a camp known as the Outdoor Education Program, supervising fifth graders from three district elementary schools.

DuBray says there’s no evidence Hansen did anything other than tape the students, and does not appear to have shared the videos with anyone. He  says individual parents will be contacted once the children are identified.

Absentee voting starts today

Voting for Missouri's Aug. 7 primary is officially underway.

Today marks the first day that voters can cast absentee ballots in Missouri, which requires that a person be unable to vote at a precinct in person to qualify for an absentee ballot.

The contests include a GOP primary for the right to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, a GOP intra-party contest for lieutenant governor, and a Democratic match-up of two political scions - Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay - who are battling for the 1st Congressional District seat currently held by Clay.

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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