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Filing lawsuit might be only option left for Martin

By   /   November 5, 2010  /   News  /   1 Comment

With the election over and the votes counted, the Republican challenger trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan is running out of options. Filing a lawsuit might be the only move left for Ed Martin.

Ed Martin, congressional candidate

The day after the election Martin called for an independent investigation into three questions he outlined regarding the election results showing the Democrat won by 4,422 votes.

The Missouri Secretary of State, however, does not have the statutory authority to appoint an independent investigator to look into election results, Laura Egerdal, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, told Missouri Watchdog on Friday.

One of the reasons why Martin called for an independent investigation is that Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, also a Democrat, is a sister of congressman Carnahan.

One of the three questions that need answering by investigators, according to Martin, is the problems reported by poll workers preventing them from accessing the electronic database designed to verify voter registration information part of the day on Tuesday.

“We have been in contact with the election boards and county clerks in the third congressional district,” Egerdal said. “Although certification of the official results is not complete, they have told us that the issue with the state voter look-up did not cause major problems for their jurisdictions.”

The second issue raised by Martin on Wednesday is regarding the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. Chairwoman Eileen McCann hired a security company with close ties to Carnahan, according to Martin.

Finally, just before midnight on Tuesday, seven precincts within the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County delivered what Martin described as “an astonishing late night dump of votes” favoring Carnahan.

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan

Both Martin and Carnahan called it a night and went home without claiming victory or defeat on Election Night.

Carnahan did issue a press release on Wednesday after visiting a coffee shop in St. Louis to thank supporters. “After a long night after a long election, the voters have spoken and this race has come to an end,” Carnahan said in the statement.

Carnahan noted that he won the election by a margin of 2.2 percent, which puts the margin of victory beyond the 1 percent threshold that allows a campaign to request a recount.

Out of a total of 202,571 votes, Carnahan won the election with 99,016 votes compared to 94,594 for Martin, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office.

The Carnahan campaign has not responded to several requests for comments from Missouri Watchdog regarding Martin’s request for an independent investigation.

Local election authorities have two weeks to certify the results for their county, Egerdal told Missouri Watchdog Wednesday. Then the secretary of state’s office has until the second Tuesday in December to certify the election results.

If Martin decides to file a lawsuit requesting a recount or an independent investigation into the election, he has 30 days after the election certification by the secretary of state to file at any circuit court in the third district.

Will Martin file a lawsuit? He has not responded to repeated requests for comments from Missouri Watchdog.

By Brian R. Hookbrhook@missouriwatchdog.org, (314) 482-7944

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Brian formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.