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LIVE BLOG: Local Coverage Of Election Night 2020

Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush (left) votes early Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Gambrinus Hall in south St. Louis
Theo R. Welling
Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush (left) votes early Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Gambrinus Hall in south St. Louis

1 a.m. — A final update

The presidential results remain a nail-biter nationwide, but things are wrapping up in the St. Louis Public Radio listening area.

Incumbents won two Congressional races targeted by the Democrats as potential pick-ups. In Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Ann Wagner beat her Democratic challenger Jill Schupp 52% to 45%. And in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, Rodney Davis beat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, although the final margin is not yet known.

Voters in Missouri also reversed course on major changes to how state legislative maps are drawn. As of 12:30 a.m. Amendment 3, which undid 2018’s Clean Missouri, had a narrow but insurmountable lead. Opponents of Amendment 3 conceded in a statement around midnight. The state also rejected term limits for the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general. The two-term ceiling remains in place for governor and treasurer.

And the partisan makeup of St. Louis County politics will remain the same. Sam Page was officially elected to fill the final two years of Steve Stenger’s term, beating Republican Paul Berry 58% to 35%. And Republican Ernie Trakas held off a stiff challenge from Democrat Bob Burns to represent the 6th District, which covers south St. Louis County.

That’s all from the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom. We’ll have a lively discussion of the results later today on St. Louis on the Air, and you can follow national results here.

11 p.m. — St. Louis backs new way of holding elections, residency requirement remains

Non-public-safety employees of St. Louis will have to continue to live in the city.

Voters on Tuesday rejected an effort to change the charter and eliminate a residency requirement that has been in place since 1914. Because of a change in state law, police officers, firefighters and other public safety employees are able to move out until 2023, when they will have to live in the city for seven years.

And starting in March, municipal elections will look very different. Proposition D, which received 68% of the vote, makes the offices of mayor, comptroller, aldermen and board president nonpartisan. Voters will be able to choose as many candidates as they want in the March primary, what’s known as approval voting. The top two advance to an April runoff.

Voters also endorsed a property tax increase for early childhood education, and re-elected circuit attorney Kim Gardner, treasurer Tishaura Jones and sheriff Vernon Betts, all Democrats.

10 p.m. — Trump, Parson win Missouri

As expected, Donald Trump has won Missouriand its 10 electoral votes.

The Associated Press called the race at 9:30 p.m. But it appears that the margin of victory will be less than in 2016. That could cause some concern for down-ballot Republicans such as Ann Wagner, who is in a tight contest with Democratic challenger Jill Schupp for the 2nd Congressional District.

And the Associated Press has also projected that Gov. Mike Parson has earned a full four-year term in office. He was elevated to the post in 2018 after the resignation of Eric Greitens.

The Bolivar native, 65 was elected lieutenant governor in 2016, and he also served in the Missouri House and Senate.

In a statement, the Republican Governors Association called the result “another decisive loss” for unions and other leftist groups.

9:30 — Mo. gets its first Black Congresswoman

The Associated Press has called the race for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, and Cori Bush has made history.

Cori Bush waits in line to cast her ballot at early Tuesday morning at Gambrinus Hall in south St. Louis. Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Theo Welling
Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Cori Bush waits in line to cast her ballot at early Tuesday morning at Gambrinus Hall in south St. Louis.

“It’s amazing, but it’s also sad,” Bush told St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum earlier today. “It’s 2020, and I’ll be the first woman in the district and the first Black Congresswoman for the state. But I wouldn’t change it, this moment to be able to be here.”

Today’s election was mostly a formality — Bush faced just token opposition from Republican and Libertarian candidates, and a Republican has not held the 1st District seat since 1948. But she stunned many political observers in August, when she defeated Rep. Lacy Clay 49% to 46%. Either Clay or his father, Bill had held the 1st District seat, which covers St. Louis and parts of north and mid St. Louis County, since 1969.

Looking for information on a different race? You can find results for Missouri, Illinoisand the rest of the countryon our website.

9:00 p.m. — Election Night in a pandemic

Typical Election Night victory parties (and all candidates call them victory parties regardless of the outcome) are crowded, raucous affairs. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed the look of things. Many candidates are watching the results from their homes. State Auditor Nicole Galloway is holding an event in Columbia, but there are no supporters there, just media.

Gov. Mike Parson is holding a more traditional event in Springfield where our Jonathan Ahl is stationed. He reports that “it’s a mixture of normal and unusual,” with food, music and a “rousing speech from Congressman Jason Smith to kick things off.”

But, he adds, most of the people who are not actively eating or drinking are wearing masks, in accordance with Springfield’s mask requirement, and GOP officials are keeping track of the number of people in the room for crowd control.

And in case you are wondering, some St. Louis Public Radio reporters are in the newsroom, but we’re distanced and wearing masks. And although we decided not to order the traditional Election Night pizza, there is plenty of leftover Halloween candy.

Looking for results? You can find results for Missouri, Illinoisand the rest of the countryon our website.

7:30 p.m. — An early look at turnout (with an assist from Eric Schmid)

In several states, 2020 early voting numbers met, or even exceeded, total turnout from 2016.

Missouri and Illinois were not among them. According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, as of Nov. 1, 827,978 absentee and mail-in ballots had been returned to local election authorities, a tally that includes people who voted absentee in person at local election boards or satellite sites. Those 827,978 voters represent about 30% of Missouri’s 2016 turnout of 2.8 million.

While that percentage and total number are small compared to other states, it sets a record for early voting in Missouri. In both 2012 and 2016, absentee ballots made up about 9% of the total votes cast.

Many more people took advantage of early voting options in Illinois. By Election Day, the State Board of Elections reported around 3.8 million people, 46% of active voters, had already cast ballots in person or by mail. The early vote in Illinois was split evenly between mail-in and in-person voting.

Illinoisans overwhelmingly outpaced prior early vote totals from last elections. Compared to 2016, the number of mail-in ballots requested and in-person early voters more than quadrupled. And residents returned mail ballots at a rate 12 times higher than four years ago.

“People have really responded to not only the mailing of applications to voters that happened over the summer, but to the idea of voting by mail in general,” said Matt Dietrich, Illinois’ State Board of Elections public information officer.

That large jump in the number of votes cast early appears to have translated into a big jump in turnout overall, rather than just a shift in when people casted their ballots. St. Louis County, one of the largest jurisdictions in Missouri, reported turnout of almost 79%, compared to 2016’s turnout of 74%. The Associated Press reported Monday that Missouri elections officials expect 75% turnout, which would mark the highest total since 1992.

The number to watch going forward is the gap between absentee ballots requested and the number returned, especially in Missouri. State law requires that in order to be counted, absentee ballots must have been received by 7 p.m. tonight, except for ballots cast by military members, which must be received by noon Friday.

It is possible that some voters who requested absentee ballots decided to “spoil” it and vote in person instead — the mechanism for doing so varied by jurisdiction. But it’s also possible that some mailed their ballot too late to be counted.

Activists across the country had been warning that persistent slow-downs in U.S. Postal Service delivery could disenfranchise millions of voters. A federal judge in the District of Columbia had ordered the USPS to “sweep” processing plants in several states that had had low on-time performance numbers, an order the Postal Service said it would ignore. None of those processing centers are in Missouri or Illinois.

7 p.m. — Polls close

Good evening everyone! The polls have now closed in Missouri and Illinois, but if you’re on line, you can vote.

As we have for the past several elections, St. Louis Public Radio’s politics team, with an able assist from a number of our colleagues, will be bringing you a live blog with the latest updates on all the important contests, including;

  • A competitive Missouri governor’s race between Republican incumbent Mike Parson and Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway, the state auditor
  • The nationally-watched match-up in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District between incumbent Republican Ann Wagner and Democratic state Senator Jill Schupp
  • Another contest with national attention in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, a rematch between Republican incumbent Rodney Davis and Democrat Betsy Dirsksen Londrigan
  • All of Missouri’s statewide offices and ballot issues, including Amendment 3, which would undo 2018’s Clean Missouri initiative
  • Key Missouri state Senate races, including the 15th District contest between Republican Andrew Koenigand Democrat Deb Lavender, and the 1st District contest between Democrat Doug Beck and Republican David Lenihan.
  • A hotly-contested race for the 6th District seat on the St. Louis County Council between incumbent Republican Ernie Trakas and Democrat Bob Burns, a current state Representative
  • The St. Louis County Executive race between Democrat Sam Page and Republican Paul Berry
  • Ballot initiatives in St. Louis that would remove a residency requirement for city workers, change how local elections are held, and boost property taxes for early childhood education
  • The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s race between Democratic incumbent Kim Gardner and Republican Daniel Zdrodowski
  • Illinois’ Fair Tax measure

Here’s how the blog will work. The latest information can be found at the top. Scrolling from the bottom to the top will give you a recap of the evening.

Questions? Insights? Seeing anything crazy where you are? Let us know at electionday@stlpublicradio.org.

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