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Survey Finds City Wrongly Flagged Voters' Legitimacy

November 06, 2001|Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — The city wrongly accused dozens of people of voting improperly in the 2000 election because it had classified hundreds of homes and apartments as vacant lots, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday.

City records indicate that 2,214 residents appear to be registered at 1,000 vacant lots. But a Post-Dispatch survey found that homes and apartments are at 704 of those addresses.

Even a top city official, Budget Director Frank Jackson, was snared.

Jackson discovered his 10-year-old condominium was listed as a vacant lot when he voted in the March mayoral primary. He had never been questioned at the polls before. But because of accusations of voting misdeeds last November, federal and state monitors were at the polls in force.

"The people at the polling place had a notation by my name, and said I couldn't vote," Jackson said.

Jackson showed documents to clear his name and got to vote. But the correct information apparently was not sent to Secretary of State Matt Blunt's office, which still includes Jackson on its list of suspect voters.

Elections in the city have been under scrutiny because of a dispute on election day 2000, when a judge ordered the city's polls to remain open past the closing deadline. The judge's order was later reversed. Republicans accused Democrats of conspiring to extend voting hours to encourage ineligible voters to cast ballots. State and federal investigations followed.

Of the 2,214 voters registered with addresses that the city assessor's office deemed vacant, state and local election officials targeted 79 for casting possibly illegal ballots Nov. 7. But most of those people should not be on the suspect voter list, the newspaper reported.

The Post-Dispatch survey found 432 city residents registered from 296 truly vacant lots. But most of those residents haven't voted in years, an indication that they likely have moved elsewhere.

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