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Don Corrigan

Primary: From One-Vote Margin To Lopsided Victory

Update: Some voters received wrong election ballots in 87th District race

August 15, 2012

A major snafu has been uncovered in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary race in the 87th District between state representatives Stacey Newman and Susan Carlson. The St. Louis County Election Board is reporting that as many as 102 voters received the wrong election ballots in that race.

The mixup throws the outcome of the race into question, because Newman won the race by just one vote against Carlson. The board, therefore, is refusing to certify the results of the primary, which is likely to mean the legitimacy of the outcome will have to be resolved in circuit court.

One remedy that the court could require is a re-run of the primary race. A recount of the vote which was 1,823 for Newman, 1,822 for Carlson is unlikely to resolve the issue.

Previous column:

Just in case you needed reminding that every vote counts in an election, consider the Democratic primary results on Aug. 7 in House District 87: Stacey Newman, 1,823 votes; Susan Carlson, 1,822 votes.

The election board will officially certify the results two weeks after the election; then the Secretary of State will look at the results and certify them on Aug. 28. At that point, Susan Carlson can make a formal request for a recount to see if Newman's one-vote margin of victory holds up.

Newman got a little ink in the Post-Dispatch right before the election with her op-ed on the Aurora, Colo., mass shooting and the need for tighter gun controls. The usual letters from NRA members followed, but Newman said she also received a personal letter of support from Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

"If I am successful in this election, I plan to introduce state bills for an assault weapons ban and restrictions on the purchase of multiple-round gun clips," said state Rep. Newman, D-Richmond Heights. "Of course, with the current Republican majority in the statehouse, I am not optimistic these bills will make it to the House floor."

Lopsided Aug. 7 Vote

Some of my liberal friends remain in shock over the lopsided victory for the "right-to-pray" amendment which passed on Aug. 7. These unhappy folks are still into that whole separation of church and state thing.

"Don't conservatives know this will cause havoc in public schools when students object to assignments on religious grounds?" they ask. "Don't they know how much tax money is going to be wasted on lawsuits over prayer with this can of worms?"

I look on the bright side. There's a silver lining in every can of worms. I like the "right-to-pray" provision that says all public schools must post the amendments. Now kids will see the real 2nd Amendment. It doesn't just say that there's a right to bear arms. There is a qualifying phrase.

That phrase says, "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Back in the colonial times, well-regulated militias carried single-shot muskets to fight the Brits.

Anybody seen any "well-regulated militias" requiring musket ownership these days? Yeah, me neither. What I mostly see is TV reports on psychotics buying assault weapons and 100-round clips on the Internet to assassinate folks at Batman movies.

Nov. 6 Ballot Issues

State voters will decide the fate of a cigarette tax hike on Nov. 6, but may not face other ballot issues for a minimum wage hike or for a cap on payday loan rates.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said last week that a cigarette tax hike issue will be on the ballot, but petitions to put a minimum wage hike and a payday loan cap on the ballot did not get the necessary signatures for inclusion.

The cigarette tax proposal would increase the tax on a package of cigarettes by 73 cents to 90 cents per pack, up from the current 17 cents. A coalition of Missouri groups, led by the American Cancer Society, and other educational and health organizations is behind that effort.

A number of area residents with Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) collected signatures to put the minimum wage issue and the payday loan cap on the ballot.

The payday loan measure would put a cap of 36 percent on interest rates for people who take out payday loans. A 2009 Missouri Division of Finance study noted that the average payday loan in the state carried an interest rate of 431 percent.

The state minimum wage proposal would have taken the minimum pay of $7.25 per hour up by $1 to $8.25 an hour, beginning in 2013, with annual cost-of-living adjustments to be made in subsequent years.

The campaigns Cap the Rate and Raise the Wage are challenging the signature counts and say they are confident that they submitted more than enough valid signatures to qualify both measures for the ballot.

Four other ballot issues in the past decade have been challenged for undercounts, and have made it onto the ballot after initial Secretary of State rulings.

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