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Hearing set to consider new election in area House district
KENNETT, Mo. -- A hearing on state Rep. Kent Hampton's motion to dismiss and Dunklin County Clerk Carol Hinesly's petition for a new election in House District 150 will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday in Dunklin County Circuit Court.
Hampton, a Republican, defeated Democrat Tom Todd, a former state representative, by 116 votes Nov. 6. Hampton received 5,953 votes in District 150, while Todd had 5,837 votes.
On Nov. 13, Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff, acting on Hinesly's behalf, filed a petition for a new election after Hinesly "determined numerous errors of omission or commission occurred on the part of election judges and election authority personnel in the conduct of the Nov. 6 general election."
Hinesly said the problems occurred in a Campbell, Mo., a rural precinct that was split between House districts 150 and 152 during the redistricting process following the 2010 census. Some voters who live in District 152 were given District 150 ballots, and some District 150 voters were given District 152 ballots. The Campbell rural precinct vote totals were 166 for Hampton and 153 for Todd. The precinct has 583 registered voters in House District 150.
In his motion to dismiss the petition, Hampton, who is represented by Russell Oliver of Bloomfield, Mo., contends the petition fails to allege sufficient facts to grant Hinesly's request for a new election. Oliver is also the Stoddard County prosecutor, which is a part-time position. Hampton also contends jurisdiction for an election contest within a House district belongs to the Missouri House.
Sokoloff filed a reply to Hampton's motion to dismiss. Sokoloff maintains the allegations in the petition are sufficient to provide notice to Hampton of the nature of the action. The petition states "the irregularities were sufficient to cast doubt on the result."
Sokoloff also contends the circuit court has jurisdiction because the action is not an election contest, but is a request for a new election due to irregularities in the conduct of the original election. He asked the court to deny the motion to dismiss.
Circuit Judge Stephen Sharp was assigned to the case, but Hampton asked Sharp to recuse himself.
Sharp requested the Missouri Supreme Court to appoint a special judge as soon as possible because "time is of extreme essence in the mater."
Associate Circuit Judge William Winchester III from Scott County was appointed to the case.
Attorney Daren Todd of Malden, Mo., has entered his appearance on behalf of Tom Todd.