Candidate goes from last to first place

Friday, April 11, 2003

CHARLACK, Mo. -- Dale Mabra couldn't figure out how he received zero votes in the race for alderman in the St. Louis suburb Charlack. After all, Mabra knew he had at least two votes -- his and his wife's.

Turns out he had a lot more. Due to an election-night mix-up, the ballots were counted wrong, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.

Mabra actually finished first among the three candidates, not last, with 46 votes. The initially declared winner, incumbent Linda Klenke, finished third with 33 votes. Mike Mason was a close second with 44.

An election official blamed last-minute ballot changes that a court had ordered.

"We take full responsibility," St. Louis County Democratic elections director Judy Taylor said.

The punch-card ballot didn't match up with the computer program that tallied the votes for the 2nd Ward race.

Election officials had developed a new punch-card ballot that Taylor said wouldn't have required altering the vote-counting computer. But the wrong ballot version was printed and placed in voting booths Tuesday. So the computer compiled faulty results.

Klenke said it was an honest mistake, though she called it "very upsetting."

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