Mo. House candidate disputes narrow loss

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A candidate who narrowly lost a Democratic primary for a Missouri House seat plans to formally contest the election with the chamber by raising allegations of voter fraud, his campaign manager said Monday.

Will Royster, of Kansas City, lost the August primary for the 40th District by a single vote to John Rizzo, who then won the general election against a Libertarian candidate. An appeals court upheld Rizzo's victory.

But campaign manager Chris Moreno said Royster plans to file a petition contesting the election.

Incoming Republican House Speaker Steven Tilley of Perryville has said he would look into the case. But Tilley does not have authority to bar Rizzo from serving in the legislature. That would require a vote of the full House.

Royster claims that several of Rizzo's relatives and supporters who lived outside the district voted illegally. He also alleges that a Rizzo supporter instructed a group of Somalis who couldn't speak English how to vote and some ballots were not signed by election officials, as required by law.

Rizzo said Royster's complaints are "sour grapes."

Tilley said he has to take the complaint seriously to "uphold the sanctity of the voting process."

The close election could generate support for a proposal that Republicans have been pushing unsuccessfully for several years to require people to show government-issued photo identification when voting. Supporters argued that the measure is needed to prevent fraud.

Tilley said Republicans expect to push a similar bill this year. Although he said he hesitates to politicize the allegations in the Kansas City race, he believes the dispute could give pause to those who don't believe voter fraud exists.

Information from: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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