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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Missouri

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Missouri can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (D)

Chief election authority: V.A.M.S. 28.035.

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. 4, § 17.

Current officer: Robin Carnahan (D). 2004 Missouri Election Results (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment. Const. Art 5, §§ 2, 25.

Justices: Laura Denvir Stith (appointed by D), Mary Rhodes Russell (appointed by D), Michael A. Wolff (appointed by D), Patricia Breckenridge (R), Richard B. Teitelman (appointed by D), Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. (appointed by R), William Ray Price, Jr. (appointed by R) (Last updated 12/20/07)

Sources:

  • High Court Again Avoids a Death Sentence, Jury Should Decide Penalty, Not Judge, Panel Says, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 1, 2003.
  • Kansas City woman set to become chief justice of Missouri Supreme Court, Kansas City Star, June 30, 2007.
  • Commentary: Best-laid plan, Missouri Lawyers Weekly, September 3, 2007.

Local Administrator Training

No info

No law was found requiring Missouri election officials to attend training, or stating whether such training is even offered.

Who tallies precinct results?

County or city canvassing board - partisanship constrained

The verification board totals the precinct results for the jurisdiction.  In jurisdictions that have boards of election commissioners, these evenly bipartisan boards act as the verification boards.  In other jurisdictions, the verification board is made up of the county clerk and two members chosen from nominations submitted by each of the major political parties.  115.499 RSMo.

Who counts provisional ballots?

Depends

The local election authority determines whether to count provisional ballots. RSMo 115.430. Missouri election authorities may be elected individuals or bipartisan boards.

 

Who performs state canvass?

Special canvassing commission - mixed/partisanship unconstrained

The board of state canvassers performs the state canvass. RSMo 115.511.  The board of state canvassers consists of the Secretary of State and two disinterested state court judges appointed by the secretary. Const. Art.4 § 18.

Local Administrator

Depends

Most Missouri jurisdictions depend on an elected county clerk to run elections. 115.015 RSMo.

However, counties or cities meeting certain conditions must have a Board of Election Commissioners. 115.015 RSMo. There are currently 4 counties and 2 cities that have such Boards: St. Louis City, Kansas City, St. Louis County, Clay County, Jackson County, and Platte County. Boards consist of four members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. 115.027 RSMo. No more than two members of the board may be of the same political party.

 

Local Administrators' Party Affiliation

R leaning/elected

County/City Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting Technology
St. Louis (county) 1,000,510 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor ES&S OS
Jackson (county) 664,078 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor ES&S OS
Kansas City (city) 442,768 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor Premier OS
St. Charles (county) 338,719 Rich Chrismer (R) [1] Elected Premier OS
St. Louis (city) 332,223 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor Premier OS
Greene (county) 354,779 Richard Struckhoff (R) [2] Elected Sequoia OS
Jefferson (county) 216,469 Wes Wagner (D) [3] Elected Premier OS
Clay (county) 206,957 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor Premier OS
Boone (county) 146,048 Wendy Noren (D) [4] Elected ES&S OS
Jasper (county) 112,505 Bonnie Earl (?) Elected Sequoia OS
Franklin (county) 100,067 Debbie Door (R) [5] Elected Premier OS
Total 3,915,123 (67% of population)
  • [1] Voting machines are issue in race for elections director, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October, 31, 2006.
  • [2] Missourians in no rush to vote in presidential primaries, AP Alert, December 31, 2007.
  • [3] Newly elected officials take oath of office at ceremony, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 22, 2006.
  • [4] Missourians in no rush to vote in presidential primaries, AP Alert, December 31, 2007.
  • [5] Blunt seeks absentee ballot lists for GOP, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 17, 2004.

Voter Registration

Registration Deadline

Other

Voters must register to vote by the fourth Wednesday before an election. The deadline time is 5 pm or the closing time of a public building where registration is being conducted but no later than 10 pm. VAMS 115.135

Voters are regarded as registered as of the date they apply at a voter registration agency or the post-mark date of a mail-in application, as long as the confirmation notices are not returned as undeliverable by the post office. VAMS 115.151, 115.155

Notice of Registration Error

Yes

If the election authority determines that the applicant is not entitled to register, the authority must notify the applicant by mail and state the reason that the applicant is not qualified. VAMS 115.155.

Opportunity to Correct after Registration Deadline

Unclear under state law

Missouri individuals must be fully registered by the deadline in order to vote. VAMS 115.135.

However, note that one source told Moritz that at least some Missouri election administrators may be interpreting this provision in a non-literal way that permits voters to cure their registration applications after the deadline.

 

HAVA matching standards

Hybrid standard

Missouri has two matching processes, one for applicants who submit driver's license numbers (or state ID numbers) on their registration applications, and one for applicants who submit social security numbers on their applications. If both numbers are provided, Missouri will use the driver's license process. The driver's license process does not require an exact match, but the social security process does. A representative of the Secretary of State's office stated that, unlike some states (Iowa), election administrators will not try different variations on a name (e.g., "Bob" vs. "Robert") in order to obtain a match.

Source: Phone conversation, Missouri Secretary of State's office, August 7, 2008.

Will the inability to verify social security number or driver's license number prevent registration?

No statewide policy

If administrators fail to obtain a match, they will send out a letter to the voter for corrected info. Until the voter provides corrected info, they are not registered, but are listed in the database as "pending." Pending voters are not listed on the precinct register and it will seem to poll workers that they are voters who simply failed to register. Representatives of the Secretary of State's office said that, when pending voters appear at the polls, poll workers are supposed to contact the local election administrator for guidance. The representatives stated that, at that point, the procedure may differ depending on the local administrator's policy. Some administrators might just let the voter cast a regular ballot, some administrators might require the voter to go to the administrator's central office to present the information necessary for verification, and some might require the voter to cast a provisional ballot that may or may not count.

Source: Phone conversation, Missouri Secretary of State's office, August 7, 2008.

 

Challenges

Pre-election challenges

N/A

Missouri does not have pre-eleciton day challenges, only election-day challenges.

Election day challenges

Successfully challenged voter must cast a provisional ballot

Challenges to a voter's qualifications to vote may be made by any voter, election personnel, or authorized challenger. RSMo 115.429. A majority of poll workers present decides whether the challenged voter is who he or she claims and is qualified to vote. If the poll workers cannot reach a decision on the identity or qualifications of any person, the question shall be decided by the election authority, subject to appeal to the circuit court. The challenged voter may appeal a majority decision by the poll workers to the election authority or the circuit court.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

Ballot will count if voter was registered and eligible and properly filled out paperwork

Provisional votes will count where officials determine that the voter is registered and eligible to vote in the precinct where the ballot was cast and "if the vote was properly cast." VAMS 115.430. The information contained on the ballot envelope must also be "correct, complete, and accurate." In making their determination, officials must examine their own registration records and, furthermore, must contact any voter registration agency to which the voter claimed on the provisional ballot paperwork a registration form was submitted. 

Note: The ballot will not count if the election authority is unable to determine whether the voter was entitled to cast a ballot in the subject precinct.

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

Ballot will not be counted

Provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct generally will not count.  VAMS 115.430; Hawkins v. Blunt (see p. 10).  The only exception is when poll workers fail to inform the voter that they are in the wrong location.  However, a representative of the Secretary of State's office stated that officials would have no way of knowing when this kind of failure occurred.

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

.25-.5 percent of ballots cast at polls

0.36%

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

40-50 percent

44.3%

Early and Absentee Voting

Convenience Voting

Early voting and "excuse" absentee voting

Absentee voting is only available to voters with a legitimate excuse for being unable to vote in their jurisdictions on election day.  These include absence from the jurisdiction, illness or caring for one who is ill, religious beliefs, employment at the polls on election day, or incarceration (where voting rights are retained).  RSMo 115.277.  Application for and delivery of absentee ballots is typically done by mail, but voters may apply for and pick up ballots at the election authority’s office if they choose. RSMo 115.279; 115.287.  In-person absentee voting is not explicitly provided for in the code but the Secretary of State’s website states that it is allowed until 5 p.m. on the day before an election.

Voting Technology

Voting Technology

Mixed

County/City Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting Technology
St. Louis (county) 1,000,510 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor ES&S OS
Jackson (county) 664,078 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor ES&S OS
Kansas City (city) 442,768 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor Premier OS
St. Charles (county) 338,719 Rich Chrismer (R) [1] Elected Premier OS
St. Louis (city) 332,223 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor Premier OS
Greene (county) 354,779 Richard Struckhoff (R) [2] Elected Sequoia OS
Jefferson (county) 216,469 Wes Wagner (D) [3] Elected Premier OS
Clay (county) 206,957 Bipartisan board Appointed by governor Premier OS
Boone (county) 146,048 Wendy Noren (D) [4] Elected ES&S OS
Jasper (county) 112,505 Bonnie Earl (?) Elected Sequoia OS
Franklin (county) 100,067 Debbie Door (R) [5] Elected Premier OS
Total 3,915,123 (67% of population)
  • [1] Voting machines are issue in race for elections director, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October, 31, 2006.
  • [2] Missourians in no rush to vote in presidential primaries, AP Alert, December 31, 2007.
  • [3] Newly elected officials take oath of office at ceremony, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 22, 2006.
  • [4] Missourians in no rush to vote in presidential primaries, AP Alert, December 31, 2007.
  • [5] Blunt seeks absentee ballot lists for GOP, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 17, 2004.

Does state law require a VVPAT?

Yes

Missouri requires that all voting systems produce VVPAT by executive order (see here).  

 

Polling Place Operations

Who are poll workers?

Appointed by local administrator/some minority party representation

The election authority shall appoint at least two poll workers from each major political party. VAMS 115.081. No party may have the majority of poll workers. Third-party and independent poll workers may serve, but their number cannot be greater than the number of poll workers from either of the two major parties.

The election authority does not necessarily appoint poll workers directly. Rather, in counties with boards of election commissioners, the board may invite the local political parties to designate nominees. VAMS 115. 089. In counties without these boards (counties in which elections are managed by the clerk), poll workers must be selected from such nominating lists. VAMS 115.087. The only exception is when these lists are not provided.

Poll worker training

Frequency not defined by law

Poll worker training is required in Missouri, but the law does not state how often it must occur.

All local administrators must establish training programs for election judges that substantially include the HAVA training curriculum adopted by the Secretary of State. VAMS 115.103. No publicly available information was found regarding that curriculum.

The Secretary of State creates uniform poll worker training materials but the local election authorities are not required to use these. In fact, at least one county in the last election used its own training material containing incorrect voter ID requirements (see here, p. 16).

Polling hours extension

Court may not extend

Polls must open at 6 a.m. and be kept open until 7 p.m. V.A.M.S. 115.407. Missouri courts lack jurisdiction to extend polling hours beyond the ordinary time for closing. State ex rel. Bush-Cheney 2000, Inc. v. Baker, 34 S.W.3d 410, 412 (Mo.App.E.D., 2000).

Although there is probably no way to extend the hours of voting, there is a way to reschedule the entire election to a different day. In case of disaster, local election authorities may petition a special panel of Court of Appeals judges to schedule the election for another day or to relocate polling places. 115.024 RSMo. Disaster means "any catastrophic or natural disaster, statewide or nationwide emergency, man-made disaster, civil disorder, insurgency, bioterrorism attack, terrorist attack, or enemy attack." The election panels are established by Missouri Supreme Court rule and are composed of the chief judge and the two longest serving active judges of that district's Court of Appeals.

"At seven o'clock in the evening, all voters at the polls, including any in line to vote, shall be permitted to vote." V.A.M.S. 115.407.

Polling place closing times - local times

7:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

8:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Non-photo ID required

Missouri requires that all voters present one of the following forms of ID to cast a regular ballot:

1. ID issued by federal government, state of Missouri, or a local election authority;
2. ID issued by a Missouri institution (public or private) of higher education, including a university, college, vocational and technical school;
3. A copy of current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter;
4. Driver's license or state identification card issued by another state.

See here; prior version of MO ST 115.427. The current version of MO ST 115.427 required photo ID, but that requirement was struck down as unconstitutional in Weinschenk v. State, 203 S.W.3d 201 (Mo., 2006). The prior version of the statute has not yet been put back on the books, but the Secretary of State is applying it anyway (see here).

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voters must cast provisional ballot

Voters who do not have proper ID may cast a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will count only if the voter does one of the following things: 1. Comes back with proper ID before the close of polls or 2. completes an affidavit that says the voter does not have ID due to disability, religious belief, or because the voter was born before January 1, 1941. VAMS 115.427.

Follow-up required of voter

Voter must return with ID on election day itself

There is no opportunity for follow-up by the voter after election day. VAMS 115.427. The voter may return with ID on election day itself to ensure that the provisional ballot will count. After the close of polls, ID will no longer be accepted.

Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters or Emergencies

Election-specific emergency provision

In case of disaster, local election authorities may petition a special panel of Court of Appeals judges to schedule the election for another day or to relocate polling places.  115.024 RSMo.  Disaster means "any catastrophic or natural disaster, statewide or nationwide emergency, man-made disaster, civil disorder, insurgency, bioterrorism attack, terrorist attack, or enemy attack."  The election panels are established by Missouri Supreme Court rule and are composed of the chief judge and the two longest serving active judges of that district's Court of Appeals. 

Ballot Shortages

Unclear under state law

Nothing could be found in Missouri election law as to how to handle ballot shortages. However, in 2006 the Secretary of State applauded poll workers who made photocopies of ballots to deal with a shortage. Scattered computer glitches slow voting, CNN, Nov. 8, 2006.

The Secretary of State put out a report including information on ballot shortages across the state and voters leaving without voting or waiting 2 hours for photocopied ballots to arrive. One county auditor's race was won by 4 votes and the outcome may have been different had voters not left without voting. Secretary of State, Voter's First Report, Winter 2007, p. 11.

What if touchscreens break down?

Poll workers can create makeshift ballots

Poll workers can create makeshift ballots when touchscreens break down, cannot be repaired, and there are no other machines available for use. 115.265 RSMo. This language might be interpreted to mean that as long as one electronic machine at the polling place is operational, paper ballots may not be used.

According to a 2006 report by the Secretary of State, most counties already use optical scan paper ballots. St. Louis County uses touchscreen machines primarily, but paper ballots are an available option in all polling places. St. Louis County has employed a dual system since 2006, allowing voters to choose between touchscreens and paper ballots. In these jurisdictions, it is clear that if one system was unavailable due to ballot shortage or machine breakdown, the other could be used by all voters. This is not guaranteed in all jurisdictions. A bill is in the works that would require all Missouri polls to make paper ballots available as an option to voters, but as of August 19, 2008, no action is currently being taken on it (see here and here).

Post-Election Processes

State certification deadline

Second week of December

The board of state canvassers will meet to total the abstracts of each general election and will issue a statement announcing the results no later than the second Tuesday in December. RSMo 115.511.

Election contest deadline

Within 1 week of state certification

5 days after state certification (the second Tuesday in December)

Missouri requires that a petition to challenge a candidate for election to an office must be filed no later than 5 days after the latest date for certification of a candidate. RSMo 115.526. The results of a presidential election must be certified no later than the second Tuesday in December. RSMo 115.511.

Missouri law generally authorizes election contests. RSMo 115.527; 115.575.

Local count deadline

Between 8 and 14 days after the election

The verification board meets as soon as practicable after the election to verify the count and certify the results. RSMo 115.497. The election authority must certify the returns no later than the second Tuesday after the election. RSMo 115.507. The election authority of the jurisdiction will also deliver the abstract of the votes to the secretary of state by the second Tuesday after the election.

Audit type

Manual

Optical scan ballots are audited manually, and touchscreens are audited by manually reviewing their paper trails. 15 CSR 30-10-110, 30-10.160.

Officials randomly select no less than 1% of precincts to audit. 15 CRS 30-10.110. The Secretary of State can waive the audit requirement upon showing of good cause.

Audit scope

1-2% of precincts

Officials randomly select no less than 1% of precincts to audit. 15 CRS 30-10.110. The Secretary of State can waive the audit requirement upon showing of good cause.

Candidate-requested recounts

Available at 1%

When the margin of victory was 1% or less, a candidate may obtain one by requesting it within 7 days of certification of the results. RSMo 115.601.

Administrative Recounts

By court order only

The local election authority may petition the circuit court for a recount or new election if he or she is convinced that “errors of omission or commission have occurred on the part of the election authority, election judges, or any election personnel in the conduct of an election”. RSMo 115.600.

Automatic Recounts

None

Missouri does not have automatic recounts.

Defintion of a vote

Concrete standard

Missouri law counts any mark that clearly indicates that the voter intends to mark a particular square to the left of a candidate’s name as a vote for that candidate. RSMo 115.439. Another statute goes into greater detail and says that the following marks shall count as valid votes: 1. a distinguishing mark in the square adjacent to the name of the canddate; 2. a distinguishing mark adjacent to the name of the candidate; 3. circling the name of the candidate. VAMS 115.456. Further specific examples of valid marks are provided in the administrative code. 15 MO ADC 30-9.020.

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots

Unclear

Missouri statutes state that election judges should report unverified ballots to the local election authority. §115.471; 115.485. However, the statutes say nothing more. No cases considering the issue were found.

In an election contest based, the court has the power to order a new election where “the validity of a number of votes equal to or greater than the margin of defeat is placed in doubt.” Marre v. Reed, 775 S.W.2d 951, 954 (Mo. 1989); § 115.593. However, it is not clear that the court would consider a simple failure of voters to sign the poll books as placing the validity of the resulting ballots in doubt without some further suggestion that the voters were ineligible. Thus, this issue remains unclear.

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Errors will disqualify ballots where they make it impossible to determine registration and eligibility

Missouri law states that provisional ballots should be counted where, based on a search of various records, officials determine the voter was registered and eligible. § 115.430. Thus, non-substantive mistakes will not result in the rejection of ballots where the mistakes do not interfere with officials’ ability to make this determination. However, where the mistake is such that officials are “unable to determine such person’s right to vote,” the ballot will be rejected. § 115.430.  

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Trial Court

Missouri law generally authorizes election contests. V.A.M.S. 115.527; 115.575. These contests may be filed in any circuit court where any part of the election was held. Circuit court judges, with the exception of St. Louis, Jackson, and other counties, are elected. Missouri Const., Art. 5, § 25(a). Missouri circuit courts are a type of trial court.

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Depends

No recounts authorized outside of election contest. In an election contest, however, the court may order a recount to occur. V.A.M.S. 115.600; 115.601. If a court orders an election contest and the margin of victory was less than 1%, the recount is conducted by the Secretary of State, local election authorities, and “persons appointed to assist.” V.A.M.S. 115.601. The Secretary of State appoints these persons after they are nominated by the contestant and opponent. V.A.M.S. 115.601. An equal number from each side must be maintained.

The election authority is the county clerk by default, but can also be a city or county board of election commissioners by local option. V.A.M.S. 115.015. County clerks are elected. V.A.M.S. 51.020. Local elections board members are nominated by the leaders of state political parties and appointed by the governor. V.A.M.S. 115.027. These boards must be evenly balanced between the two major political parties. The Secretary of State is elected. V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 4, s 17.

If a court orders an election contest and the margin of victory was less than 1%, the recount is supervised by the circuit court and conducted by court-appointed assistants. V.A.M.S. 115.543; 115.587. The teams of assistants must contain an equal number of representatives from lists submitted to the court by the contestant and contestee.

A Presidential election contest would be heard by any local circuit court where the petition was filed. V.A.M.S. 115.531; 115.575. This local circuit court would have exclusive jurisdiction over the contest. Contests for other types of offices are held in the state Supreme Court. 115.555. Any candidate may file an election contest. V.A.M.S. 115.531; 115.553.