Community activist asks for recount of vote to establish St. Charles County police department

2012-12-20T17:00:00Z 2014-12-30T17:04:05Z Community activist asks for recount of vote to establish St. Charles County police departmentBy Susan Weich sweich@post-dispatch.com 636-493-9674 stltoday.com

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A community activist has asked for a recount of last month’s vote to establish a county police department.

In a petition filed with the circuit court Wednesday, A.C. Dienoff of O’Fallon cited several reasons for the request, including an approval margin of less than 1 percent and potential voting irregularities that include a ballot machine falling off a truck and being run over by traffic.

The issue passed by 1,154 votes, a number that Dienoff said was troubling when “election irregularities” were factored in.

He questions the results from a voting machine that fell off a truck when it was being transported from a polling place to the election authority.

The machine was run over by several cars and left in pieces. It was recovered by police officers who searched for the machine after authorities realized it was missing.

County elections director Rich Chrismer said the incident didn’t taint the election process.

“The memory card, believe it or not, was intact and it read perfectly so we didn’t lose any votes,” he said.

Dienoff’s petition also claims the ballot issue was unconstitutional because it takes away duties and responsibilities from an elected sheriff, the ballot language was confusing, and it included no details about the cost of establishing a county police department.

Chrismer said Thursday he was unaware of Dienoff’s lawsuit until contacted by a reporter, but if the court ordered a recount, it probably would not happen until after the first of the year.

The new county police department is set to begin operating in 2015. It will take over law enforcement in unincorporated areas from the sheriff’s department. An elected sheriff would remain in charge of court services and security.

Chrismer said that the secretary of state would decide whether the recount would be done by hand or if a machine recount would be permissible.

In addition, Chrismer said in the past six recounts in the county, the person who requested the action had to post a bond to cover the costs.

If Dienoff is required to do so, and the vote is not overturned, he would forfeit the bond money, Chrismer said. The cost is not yet known.

Dienoff disputed that need for a bond.

“I don’t think there should be any bond or any cost to me because this is for the benefit of the community and the election process,” he said.

Susan is a reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter at susan_weich or on Facebook.

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