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Missouri court denies recount, new election in contested one-vote loss

By   /   October 18, 2010  /   News  /   1 Comment

The Missouri Court of Appeals denied a recount or a new election for Missouri House District 40, a race between two Democrats in Kansas City. John Rizzo beat Will Royster by a single vote in the August primary.

Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City

Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City

The appellate court explained why there would be no recount last week on Wednesday:  “Royster’s argument is flawed because it fails to take into account the fact Missouri law provides that he is entitled to only one recount in this context.”

Royster was seeking a court recount to disqualify ballots that were missing initials by election judges.  The appellate court ruled “the ballots without the initials of two election judges are in that condition due to mistakes made by the election judges and that the ballot is otherwise legal and proper.”

Royster alleged interpreters improperly assisted several Somali voters by handling the ballots, completing ballots, and providing instructions to the voters, at the Garfield Elementary School and the Kansas City Museum polling locations. The court found “the evidence does not establish that the conduct was fraudulent, that any person who was not registered to vote voted.”

Royster claimed that precincts had been unlawfully consolidated in District 40. The Missouri Court of Appeals said “no evidence was presented to the trial court of a single voter that was not able to vote (or even inconvenienced) because their polling place was located in an improperly consolidated precinct.”

Sheila Maria Stewart told Missouri Watchdog in early October she did not vote because she could not find her polling place. That information, however, was discovered after the appeal had been made about the district court ruling about the election. Stewart lived in one of the precincts the court of appeals said that no single voter had been inconvenienced by consolidation.

Royster discovered other evidence of voting irregularities in the August election and filed a new request with the Missouri Court of Appeals the afternoon before the decision was announced.  It is unclear whether the court of appeals knew about this filing before releasing their decision the next day in the appeal.

A Special Master — an authority appointed by a judge to make sure that judicial orders are followed —  was requested by Royster late on Tuesday afternoon to hear additional evidence about several matters:

  • A Rizzo contributor living outside of District 40 allegedly voting in District 40.
  • Two voters in the Aug. 3 primary with a residence that “appears to be abandoned and boarded up.”  News reports identified these as “inactive” voters on the voter registration list.
  • Three voters using an address in District 40 to vote but admitting on camera to KCTV to be residents outside Jackson County.  [While not in the court brief, The Pitch later identified these three voters as Rizzo’s aunt, uncle and cousin.]

Royster’s brief did not mention voter Myron George Stolbert that Missouri Watchdog reported was registered outside District 41 before and after the election, but voted in District 40 on Aug. 3.

Rizzo’s brief filed on Thursday asked the court to deny the request for a Special Master.

The Missouri Court of Appeals granted Rizzo’s request on Friday.  The appeals court continued to express concerns that there was not enough time for a recount or a new primary election before the general election, but expressed no opinion about the validity of Royster’s new claims of voting irregularities.

Late Friday Royster filed a new brief with the Missouri Court of Appeals asking for a rehearing, or a transfer of the case to the Supreme Court of Missouri.

Court documents in Will Royster vs. John J. Rizzo, et al.

See earlier court documents in earlier article.


Contact: Earl F Glynn, earl@kansaswatchdog.org