Top election officer releases investigation of Missouri race


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander said Wednesday he is sending findings from an investigation into allegations that election laws were violated in a state House race to prosecutors to determine if charges are warranted.

A report released by Koster, the state’s top elections official, said his office didn’t find enough evidence to file a probable cause statement related to what he described as “troubling allegations” regarding absentee ballots in a Democratic primary for a St. Louis-area House seat.

But he’s encouraging the St. Louis Circuit attorney and the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis to review every absentee ballot cast in the election and file charges if any election laws were broken by a campaign.

“The laws on absentee voting in Missouri are very clear, so there’s no excuse for them not being followed by local election authorities, campaigns, candidates or voters,” Kander said in a statement.

At issue is incumbent Rep. Penny Hubbard’s narrow 90-vote win over political newcomer Bruce Franks on Aug. 2.

While Franks won 53 percent of votes cast on primary day, Hubbard raked in 78.5 percent of absentee votes.

Hubbard’s attorney Jane Dueker said she’s not surprised Kander’s office didn’t find enough evidence for him to take further action.

“If he had been able to find sufficient evidence of any wrongdoing, he could have done a probable cause statement and he didn’t,” Dueker said, later adding, “We’re not surprised.”

Franks and his attorney did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

After Hubbard’s win, Franks sued, and absentee votes cast in the election have fallen under scrutiny.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison last week ruled that the St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners broke state law by accepting 142 absentee ballots without envelopes.

He said election irregularities impacted the outcome of the race and ordered another election Sept. 16.

Hubbard appealed, and arguments are scheduled for Monday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported two voters told the newspaper that people who identified themselves as Hubbard campaign workers filled out their ballots for them in violation of state law. The paper also reported more than a dozen voters said they never claimed to be unable to go to the polls because of illness or disability, as their applications to vote absentee show.