ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) – Bungled preparations for Tuesday's municipal elections in St. Louis County left some voters in line without ballots to cast. At least 50 polling places experienced a shortage of paper ballots. St. Louis County director of elections Eric Fay acknowledged mistakes were made and said he was willing to take responsibility. He said state law requires the county to supply enough ballots to equal 133% of the voter turnout at each precinct in the most similar previous election.
The county's electronic machines were not available because of the short turnaround time following the Missouri presidential primary in early March. That left election judges with no option but to tell voters they could go to the St. Louis County Election Board office in Maplewood to vote or to return later in the day.
At Wyland School in Overland it took four hours before the correct ballots were brought to the polling place.
Efforts by the Election Board, the Campaign for Clean Water and a candidate on the ballot to convince a judge to keep certain polling places open until 9 pm Tuesday night failed. Lawyers appealed to the Missouri Appellate Court. By 7 pm that effort appeared to have failed. But shortly after 7 pm, the Appellate court ordered 63 precincts to remain open until 9 pm. It was not clear if that could be accomplished in each case.
The closeness of some municipal races may prompt future lawsuits over the equity issue. It is not clear yet what caused the miscount of needed ballots. However; both Fay and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander are promising full investigations.
Statement from Gov. Nixon:
"Ensuring elections are run freely, fairly and effectively is one of government's most important and fundamental responsibilities. What is occurring in St. Louis County is inexcusable. The St. Louis County Board of Elections, and particularly its two directors, must rectify these mistakes, explain how they occurred, and be held accountable for this unacceptable failure."