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Committee appointed to consider recount request in close Missouri House race

 The Missouri House chamber during the 2022 legislative session.
Tim Bommel
/
Missouri House Communications
The Missouri House chamber during the 2022 legislative session.

Democrats picked up three seats in the Missouri House during the 2022 elections. Two months later, they are hopeful they may be able to capture another.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Dean Plocher appointed a seven-member committee to review a challenge to the election of state Rep. Adam Schwadron, R-St. Charles, by his Democratic opponent, Cindy Berne, in the 105th House District.

Schwadron was declared the winner by 99 votes in the certified results, or 0.91% of the 10,951 votes cast. Schwadron received 5,404, or 49.35%, to Berne’s 5,305, or 48.44%, with Libertarian candidate Michael Carver picking up the remainder.

Berne requested the recount in a petition submitted to the House on Jan. 5 and printed in the House Journal on Tuesday.

“As a legislative body we have consistently supported policies that safeguard our elections process and produce voting results that are fair and accurate,” Plocher said in a news release. “This body is committed to conducting a thorough review of the election in District 105 to make sure it complies with the election standards we have created.”

Berne is seeking a recount under a state law covering races where the margin is less than 1%. Because the House is the sole judge of the qualifications of its members, election challenges are judged by the House itself.

In an interview with The Independent, Berne said she is not alleging that any irregularities or issues prevented voters from casting ballots in the race, or that any ballots properly cast were not counted before the race was certified.

“The vote turned out to be under 1% and I just felt it was fair and in the spirit of election integrity to have all votes recounted,” she said.

The district is one of three House seats decided by less than 100 votes. There are automatic recounts in races decided by less than 0.5% of the vote, and that happened in two.

In the 17th District in Clay County, where Republican Bill Allen defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Mark Ellebracht, a recount showed Allen prevailed by 37 votes. In the other, Democrat Kemp Strickler of Lee’s Summit defeated J.C. Crossley by 45 votes in the 34th District in Jackson County.

Schwadron told The Independent he welcomes the decision to convene a special committee to hear the challenge. He is a member of the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee and said it is important to him that the results are correct.

“I served on the Elections Committee previously, so I’m all about the elections process,” Schwadron said. “And I know here in Missouri, we have free, fair, safe, transparent elections.”

The close contest was an expensive one, with the two candidates and outside groups combining to spend more than $275,000. If Berne prevails in her challenge, she would be the only Democrat representing St. Charles County in the General Assembly.

“We were both out there working hard getting our message out,” Schwadron said. “And the people at the end of the day voted for me.”

Democrats hold 52 of the chamber’s 163 seats. Becoming the 53rd is a longshot, Berne acknowledged.

“That is a big gap to close,” she said, “but I just want to make sure everyone’s vote was counted.”

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Rudi Keller