A second member of the Hubbard family who won in the Aug. 2 election will have to go to court to defend the results.
Rasheen Aldridge ran for Fifth Ward Democratic Committeeman against incumbent Rodney Hubbard Sr. that day. Aldridge received the most votes on Election Day, but Hubbard’s high tally of absentee ballots gave him the victory by 55 votes.
If that scenario sounds familiar, that is because it is similar to what happened in the race between newcomer Bruce Franks Jr. and incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard, Rodney Hubbard’s wife, for the 78th District House seat.
Franks filed an official challenge to the results, claiming a high number of absentee ballots were cast improperly. A circuit judge agreed, and called for a do-over election to be held Friday. Judge Rex Burlison’s decision was upheld by an appellate court on Tuesday.
Dave Roland, the attorney who represented Franks, is also legal counsel for Aldridge.
“The election between Aldridge and Rodney Hubbard Sr. was plagued by precisely the same illegalities that the courts found in Franks v. Hubbard,” Roland said Wednesday morning after filling a petition with the St. Louis Circuit Court contesting the results.
Roland said it was “indisputable” that at least 113 of the absentee votes counted in the Democratic committeeman race should not have been counted because they were cast improperly. That number includes 71 absentee ballots cast without the use of envelopes, something state law requires, as highlighted in a Post-Dispatch report. An additional 42 ballots were placed in envelopes not fully filled out. In his filing, Roland lists the names of the 113 voters he said had cast absentee ballots inappropriately.
“Because this race saw unlawful votes more than double Hubbard’s 55-vote margin of victory, the validity of the initial election for Fifth Ward Democratic committeeman is doubtful and the St. Louis City Circuit Court should order a new election to be held for this office,” Roland said.
Rodney Hubbard, who received nearly 71 percent of the 327 absentee ballots cast in the race against Aldridge, could not be reached for comment.
In Missouri, committeemen are party offices, rather than elected public offices. They help guide the major political parties in their operations between conventions.
Roland challenged Franks’ results first because it was a primary battle with a general election set for November, so timing was more urgent. In the race between Aldridge and Rodney Hubbard, the August election determined the winner.
Aldridge, 22, grew up in the Fifth Ward and is familiar with running for office in that part of town, which includes the Carr Square neighborhood just north of downtown. His mother, Tonya Finley, ran for Fifth Ward alderman in December 2011 but lost to Tammika Hubbard, daughter of Rodney and Penny Hubbard.
The Fifth Ward sits largely in the 78th District.
Aldridge said he knew about the history of high absentee balloting in the ward but thought he could overcome it by helping to register new voters and getting people to the polls who don’t typically get involved.
“We didn’t just want to give up and let the same old tricks continue to happen,” Aldridge said. Now that Franks has proven in court that absentee balloting was improper, Aldridge said he had to push for the same results.
“It’s time for real representation,” Aldridge said, with a committeeman working for the entire community “and not one family.”
Also on Aug. 2, Penny Hubbard retained her seat as Democratic committeewoman for the Fifth Ward. The results in that race will not be challenged because of Hubbard’s strong performance in votes cast on Election Day and in absentee ballots, Roland said.
Aldridge is a former Ferguson Commission member. Like Franks, he was a frequent figure at protests after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Aldridge and Franks, 31, are part of an effort by young, progressive Democrats to topple established party leaders, including Hubbard family members, who currently hold four elected offices.