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Four metro counties join effort to get courts to move Missouri’s April 7 election to June 2

Four metro counties join effort to get courts to move Missouri’s April 7 election to June 2

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Missouri presidential primary 2020

Poll worker Jan Booton wipes down a pen used by voters in the Missouri presidential primary on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at Blanchette Memorial Hall in St. Charles. "This is my first time working the polls. I asked if I could bring hand sanitizer when I was being trained," said Booten, who would use a Lysol to wipe down pens and styluses in effort to reduce the spread of germs.  Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — Election authorities in St. Charles, Lincoln, Franklin and Warren counties said Tuesday they’ll ask a court to shift their April 7 elections to June 2 because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The planned moves are part of an effort by an organization of local election officials across Missouri to agree on a single substitute election date amid the reluctance of many volunteers to work the polls at the regular April vote.

“Every county has the same issue where most of our election judges are older and they’re the most susceptible to COVID-19,” said St. Charles County Elections Director Kurt Bahr. In his county, he said, more than 70% are 60 or older.

Warren County Clerk Denise Stotler said she was worried that her office might not be able to line up enough people to staff polling places. She also said holding the election April 7 runs counter to health authorities’ requests that people not gather in large groups.

The county clerks in Lincoln and Franklin counties, Crystal Hall and Tim Baker, also said they’d sign on.

In addition, Jefferson County Clerk Ken Waller said he’s highly likely to join the request, which is to be filed with the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.

A three-judge panel from that court on Monday rejected a request by the St. Louis County Election Board to shift from April 7 to a vote-by-mail setup on April 28, saying the court doesn’t have authority to order that option.

The panel also turned down St. Louis County’s alternative proposal to move everything on the April 7 ballot to the Aug. 4 state primary, saying that’s too far off. But the judges indicated they were open to an earlier date.

Eric Fey, the St. Louis County board’s Democratic director, said the June 2 option is “definitely something our board will consider” but that a board meeting has yet to be scheduled on the matter.

Another option is to appeal the rejection of its request, which had been filed Saturday, to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, in western Missouri, election officials in more than 40 counties have agreed to join a court request for a shift to June 2, said Corey Dillon, a director with the Jackson County Election Board in suburban Kansas City.

The Kansas City Election Board on Thursday is expected to discuss the idea as well, said board official Lauri Ealom.

Under Missouri state law, election dates can be shifted by state appeals court panels if a ’’disaster” prevents one from being held. Separate appeals courts in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield serve eastern, western and southern districts of the state, respectively.

St. Louis election officials are awaiting the outcome of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District‘s plans to ask a court to delay the April 7 vote planned for its proposed bond issue in the city and St. Louis County.

COVID-19 cases in Missouri by county

COVID-19 cases in the United States

CDC fact sheet: Prevention and treatment

Mark Schlinkmann 314-340-8265 @markschlinkmann on Twitter mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com

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