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St. Louis County election officials grilled over election failures

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) - Tough talk in Jefferson City Wednesday as members of the Missouri House of Representatives demanded to know why St. Louis County voters faced a shortage of ballots at 60 polling places last week.

The county's Republican and Democratic election directors appeared at a public hearing in the state capital. They explained problems during the set-up for Missouri's presidential primary on March 15 delayed preparation for the April 5 municipal election.

Two court orders requiring election officials to add the ballots for The villages of Uplands Park and Mackenzie caused more difficulties. Democratic Election Director Eric Fey told lawmakers the villages missed the state established deadline for placing candidates and proposals on the April ballot. However, the court required the election board to add the material to the election plan. According to Republican Director Gary Fuhr and Fey the computer program used to add the information caused a miss match of ballots needed within some other municipalities.

Election workers then failed to adequately check for errors and the problem was not caught until Election Day morning.

Efforts were made to deliver extra ballots to polling places and in some cases the election judges were able to copy ballots. However some voters could not wait and effectively were denied their right to vote. Some lawmakers want to see Fuhr and Fey fired; others say that would create more problems because the Missouri state wide primary is only four months away. A second hearing will be held next week in Jefferson City. Lawmakers want to hear from two of the St. Louis County Election Board commissioners and from voters who were affected by the ballot shortages.

They also criticized Missouri's Secretary of State Jason Kander for failing to appear or to send a representative to testify before the committees.