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Former sheriff J.T. Roberts asks for new election and hand-recount

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 4, 2008) — Former Sheriff J.T. Roberts, D-Waynesville, lost his race in November by only 38 votes out of 12,884 cast, with a margin of 6,403 to 6,441. That means he’s entitled to an automatic recount if he files a request prior to Friday, Dec. 5, according to County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer.

However, on Wednesday afternoon he filed court papers with Circuit Clerk Rachelle Beasley accusing Linnenbringer of numerous election offenses and asked the circuit court to order a new election between himself and the incumbent, Sheriff J.B. King, R-Waynesville.

King was elected in 2004 by defeating Roberts, who had served 12 years previously.

In his court papers, Roberts asked the court not only to order a new election but also to order that his attorney fees be paid. His attorneys are Richard D. Crites and R. Lynn Myers of Springfield.

“The only fair and just remedy under the totality of the circumstances and the facts of this case would be for this court to require that a new election for the office of sheriff of Pulaski County … and require (Linnenbringer) follow the applicable state statutes and regulations for the conducting of that election and counting and tabulation of the votes be by hand, under strict supervision of this court, to prevent the recurrence of the election violations, improprieties and material irregularities that have occurred in this matter,” Roberts claimed in his court petition.

In court papers, Roberts said none of the votes in the Big Piney, Crocker, Dixon, Hooker, Laquey, Richland, St. Robert, Swedeborg or Waynesville precincts were hand-counted and all were counted by voter tabulation machines. According to the court papers, “evidence and proof that will be adduced at the trial of this cause will prove that the voting tabulation machines which (Linnenbringer) utilized to count the absentee ballots and the paper ballots that were cast … were defective and that the machines failed to count votes for (Roberts) but instead rejected votes for (Roberts) due to markings upon the ballots which had no reference to the expression of the intent of the voters who cast the ballots, and that therefore the use of the same voting tabulation machines in a recount of the paper ballots would not result in the accurate reflection of the intent of the voters in the election for the office of sheriff.”

The court documents also allege that the counting machines were not properly programmed and recounting the ballots by the same counting machines won’t solve the problem, and asks the court to issue an order “requiring (Linnenbringer) to perform a hand recount of all the absentee ballots and of all the paper ballots.”

Problems with the election, according to Roberts, include:

• that Linnenbringer violated the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo. Section 115.279.3) by accepting absentee ballot applications made by mail, by fax, or by a guardian or relative after 5 p.m. on the Wednesday immediately prior to the election and gave out ballots to people who then voted;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.279.3 by accepting in-person absentee ballot applications after 5 p.m. on the day prior to the election from people who were not new residents or intrastate new residents and gave out ballots to people who then voted;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.283.7 by having “wrongfully rejected and refused to count and certify absentee voter ballots that were submitted by absentee voters where the envelopes containing the absentee ballots were not notarized, or were not signed by the notary or person taking the oath of the voters who submitted the absentee voter ballot envelope” despite no such notarization being required for voters who are “incapacitated or confined due to illness or physical disability” and their caregivers;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.294 by wrongfully rejecting and failing to count absentee votes from people who “allegedly failed to state on the ballot envelope their reasons for voting an absentee ballot”;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.299.2 by not delivering “all the absentee ballots to the judges appointed by her for counting the absentee ballots, but instead, prior to the delivery of the absentee ballots, unilaterally and by herself, with no one present, separated out absentee ballots in their envelopes, and did not deliver them to the judges to be examined, opened and counted and utilized in the certification process to declare the elected candidate for office of sheriff … allegedly because the envelopes containing the absentee ballots had some alleged irregularity” without regard for the requirements of RSMo. 115.294 and RSMo. 115.283.7;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.299.2 because she “did not maintain a record of the delivery of the absentee ballots to the election judges, and she did not include a signed receipt from two judges, one from each major political party, and ... did not provide each team with a ballot box, tally sheets and statements of returns as are provided to a polling place and did not deliver them to the judges to be examined, opened and counted and utilized in the certification process”;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.293.1 because she did not count all absentee votes she received before the closing of the polls on election day and counted absentee votes received after the polls closed;

• that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.279.6 and RSMo. 115.279.8 by refusing to give absentee ballots to people who were new residents and intrastate new residents who requested applications to vote by 5 p.m. on the day of the election by having “publicly announced that no one could vote absentee in the Nov. 4, 2008 general election unless they applied for an absentee ballot and received the same and voted the same on or prior to 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2008, and thereby placed a chilling effect upon those new residents who were otherwise entitled to vote by absentee ballot and prevented them from voting in the Nov. 4, 2008 general election”;

• and that Linnenbringer violated RSMo. 115.299.2, RSMo. 115.459, RSMo. 115.485, RSMo. 115.487, RSMo. 115.497, and RSMo. 115.499 and “cast doubt upon the alleged official certification of the election results” by numerous actions including ones specified elsewhere the court document, as well as “not requiring and assuring that after the envelopes were opened and the voter’s name called out in a clear voice, that the ballot would then be initialed and placed unfolded in a ballot box,” “not requiring and assuring that after the ballots were placed still in a folded condition in the ballot box, and that the ballot box would remain unopened until after all the ballots a team was counting had been placed in the ballot box,” “that after all of the absentee ballot votes on a ballot were counted, the ballots were not strung on a wire or string in the order read and after the ballots had been read, there was no attempt to have the recording judges agree on the outcome, and the ballots and envelopes in which they were located were not placed upon a wire or string nor tied in a firm knot, nor was the knot sealed so that it cannot be untied without breaking the seal, and she did not require nor assure that rejected and spoiled ballots were placed in separate containers marked ‘REJECTED’ and ‘SPOILED’” and “not requiring and assuring that the requirements set forth in RSMo. Section 115.499 with regard to the members of the Verification Board were met and complied with.”

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