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St. Louis County finds ballot irregularities in razor-thin state House race

voxefxtm | Flickr

Updated 3:25 p.m. with reaction from Stacey Newman.

Updated 3:10 p.m. to clarify that the two precincts were, indeed, in two separate Missouri House districts, confirming the importance to the issue to the race between Stacey Newman and Susan Carlson.

Updated with quotes from Rita Heard Days.

The St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners says 102 voters in the 87th House District received the wrong ballots in the Aug. 7 primary election- a finding that leaves the result of the race between Democrats Stacey Newman and Susan Carlson even more in doubt than before.

Unofficial results show Newman beating Carlson by one vote of more than 3,600 cast. County Democratic elections director Rita Heard Days says everyone - her office, the candidates, and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan - want to make sure that all the votes are cast correctly.

"The courts will have to make a decision whether they do a new election, whether it will be added to the November one, but we don't have any idea of the direction they will be taking," Days said. The commissioners voted Wednesday not to certify the results of the 87th until the ballot issue is sorted out,

Days says a polling place that in the past had served just one precinct was this year the site of two precincts - which, because of redistricting, were in different House districts. She says poll workers wrongly believed that all the ballots were the same, and that there's no indication of any deliberate wrongdoing.

"On Election Day, some folks had said, 'I think I got the wrong ballot, and I'm not really sure,'" Days said. "So I said, 'well, did you ask the people that were there?' 'No, I thought maybe it was redistricting.' So there were a couple of errors that occurred, but at the end of the day, it was an unacceptable mistake." She says poll workers or county elections employees will be disciplined, but did not say how.

Stacey Newman says she accepts that the mix-up was not deliberate, and has total faith in the system. Poll workers are often older, she says, and election days are long and stressful.

Follow Rachell Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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