I'll be real honest - I fear that voter fraud in St. Louis will cloud the election returns in the Missouri Senate race. I'm afraid that the chaos created in St. Louis during the 2000 presidential election will be repeated this year because of the high stakes involved in the Talent-Carnahan Senate race. And given the close standings in the polls, the race may well hinge on the St. Louis returns.
I believe there are forces at work in St. Louis who will actively flood the polls with unregistered voters and voters appearing at the wrong precincts on election day. The delays caused by these "voters" may push the vote counting back and when that occurs, the possibility of fraud increases substantially.
Cole County Circuit Judge Byron Kinder on Thursday ruled on the provisional vote process following a lawsuit by two top Democrats. Kinder's ruling was neutral. He ruled that election officials must first attempt to check with a local election authority, such as a county clerk, to verify the eligibility of a questionable voter. If that does not resolve the problem, the voter will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot which will be counted once their eligibility is verified or denied.
The ruling seemed to satisfy both political parties. The Democrats had wanted any warm body who shows up on election day to be allowed to vote provisionally. The Republicans wanted some verification of their eligibility. The ruling was a compromise of sorts.
State officials have verified that in 2000, as many as 1,233 ineligible voters cast ballots in St. Louis. That was not enough to change any outcomes but it does open the possibility of fraud and abuse. I see little that has changed in the urban setting since that report. In fact, because of the importance of the Senate race, it could be worse.
As I have written before, I don't believe all Missourians are keenly aware of just how important this Senate race has become. It may decide the balance of power in the United States Senate and that impacts everything from committee assignments to judicial appointments. And we in Missouri have the power to change that process. That puts a focus on our state unlike we've had in recent history. And it underlines the importance of voting once again.