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Kinloch fight and St. Louis County's likely recounts leave April 7 election in limbo

A touch-screen voting machine. Most voters in St. Louis County are expected to use the touch-screen machines in tomorrow's municipal elections.
(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)
A touch-screen voting machine. Most voters in St. Louis County are expected to use the touch-screen machines in tomorrow's municipal elections.

It’s been more than two weeks since St. Louis County’s municipal elections. But the counting in some jurisdictions continues – and may not end until this summer. Two elections even ended in a tie.

The county Board of Election Commissioners is also involved in a fight in Kinloch, where some city officials are refusing to swear in the April 7 victors, including a new mayor. The victors have been planning to oust their critics.

The newly elected mayor, Betty McCray, went to Clayton earlier this week and was sworn in by the St. Louis County circuit clerk. Her critics allege vote fraud and assert that some ineligible voters gave vacant buildings as their address or fraudulently listed Kinloch addresses where they do not live.

Eric Fey, the Election Board’s Democratic director, said the board sent out four workers on Tuesday to check out the addresses in question. A report will be submitted next week to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch's office, Fey said. He declined to discuss what the board employees found during their Kinloch survey.

Fey emphasized that the Election Board is limited in its powers. "We're the Election Board, we're not the 'Election Police,' '' he said. "Our role under statute is just to compile information in this case and then let the appropriate authorities determine what the appropriate course of action is, after that."

Recounts possible in 10 communities

Also on Tuesday, the four-person commissioners on the Election Board voted to certify the April 7 results – the first step needed before any court challenges are made or recounts are conducted. In the case of any recount, the affected candidates have 30 days from the board's certification to ask a judge to order one.

In the city of Black Jack, the First Ward contest for a city council seat ended up in a tie. Rick Steigerwald and Veronica Patton each received 143 votes.

Another tie occurred in the battle for a spot on Norwood Court’s board of trustees.

All told, the St. Louis County Election Board reports that the April 7 results in 10 communities were within the margin needed to seek a recount. The only question remaining is how many of the affected candidates go to court to ask for one. And those 10 don't include the two ties.

Fey says the number of potential recounts is a bit higher than usual.

It’s up to Black Jack and Norwood Court, to some extent, to decide how to handle the ties. Fey said that Black Jack has decided to hold a runoff this summer. Norwood Court has yet to disclose its plans.

It's unclear how long it may take to resolve the dispute in Kinloch.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.