ST. LOUIS — Challenger Bruce Franks defeated incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard in Friday in what was called a “do-over” election for the Democratic nomination for Hubbard’s Missouri House seat.
Unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office show Franks got 2,234 votes, while Hubbard received 701, with all precincts reporting. The re-do election for the 78th District was required over concerns about absentee voting.
The winner is favored in the November general election in the heavily Democratic city.
Hubbard appeared to have defeated Franks by 90 votes in the Aug. 2 primary. Franks sued for a recount, claiming many absentee ballots were improperly cast. Franks won 53 percent of votes cast on Election Day, but 78.5 percent of the 530 absentee ballots favored Hubbard.
Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled that a new election was necessary, noting that 142 absentee ballots cast in-person at the Election Board offices were not in sealed envelopes as required by state law.
The attorney for Hubbard argued that voters shouldn’t be disenfranchised on a technicality. But Burlison wrote that the irregularities “were more than petty procedural infirmities but abuses of the election law which cannot be ignored.”
Burlison blamed the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, prompting Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to replace two of the four commissioners who were serving on expired terms.
A state appeals court affirmed Burlison’s ruling on Tuesday.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation revealed several problems with absentee voting, including that some voters were duped into filling out absentee ballots.
Two former Election Board workers told the newspaper that Rodney Hubbard Sr., Penny Hubbard’s husband, brought stacks of absentee ballots into board headquarters, which would be in violation of state law. And two voters said people claiming to work for the Hubbard campaign filled out ballots for them.