Absentee voting

Attorneys for Bruce Franks, Penny Hubbard, and employees with the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners examine absentee ballot envelopes during a court hearing on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Area voter registration deadlines are fast approaching. Missouri voters must submit a completed application by the end of business on Oct. 12.

Stephanie Fleming, director of communications for Missouri's secretary of state says people can register in person, by mail or online.

There is no act more central to a democracy than voting. Electionland is a project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election.
Courtesy ProPublica

Editor’s note: St. Louis Public Radio is participating in this national reporting initiative. You can help us monitor the voting process. Whether you are voting absentee, or waiting to go to your polling place on Nov. 8, you may sign up here to let us know about your voting experience.

Election Day is still a month away, but some Americans are already casting ballots. About 20 states and the District of Columbia have early voting programs, several of which have already begun. It’s estimated that about one-third of the country will have voted by the time polls open on Nov. 8.

The Electionland coalition is also beginning its work. We’ve started looking for problems that prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to cast a ballot before the polls close. Using a combination of social media posts, data about web search trends, and call center records from a coalition of election lawyers, we’ll be looking at the process of voting to help make sure that nobody is shut out because of long lines, improper procedures or inadequate resources.

St. Louis County's temporary absentee-voting office is in Maplewood's Deer Creek shopping center.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

With Missouri’s largest bloc of votes, St. Louis County often makes or breaks elections, determining which statewide candidates claim victory, and which ballot issues become law.

But with a St. Louis judge imposing more restrictions on absentee ballots, the impact in St. Louis County is significant – and may have statewide repercussions.

Bruce Franks Jr. speaks to his supporters after finding out he won the Sept. 16 special election for Missouri’s 78th District House seat.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:45 p.m. with comments from Franks. -- The second time is the charm for Bruce Franks.

Franks, an activist and small business owner, defeated Penny Hubbard Friday night in a court-ordered re-do Democratic primary in the 78th House District.

St. Louis Democratic Elections director Mary Wheeler-Jones shows her phone to Board of Election Commissioners chairman Erv Switzer. The Board had a special meeting on Wednesday go over logistical details for a special election in the 78th House District.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri secretary of state’s office is urging St. Louis’ prosecuting attorney to keep investigating absentee ballots from a state House primary.

Democrat Jason Kander, who is also running for U.S. Senate, released his brief report on the 78th House District on Wednesday.

Bruce Franks in court on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. with comment from Dave Roland. - A St. Louis judge has ordered a re-do in a state House race marred by allegations of problems with absentee ballots.

Judge Rex Burlison set the new Democratic primary in the 78th House District for Sept. 16, the earliest date allowed by state law. The 78th covers a swath of eastern St. Louis, from just north of downtown to near the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Doug Moore, a reporter with the st. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The contested 78th House District race between Rep. Penny Hubbard and Bruce Franks came back into the spotlight this week as the first days of testimony about irregularities in the absentee ballots took place in front of Judge Rex Burlison in a downtown St. Louis courtroom.

Judge Rex Burlison (center) listens to attorneys on the first day of a trial to determine if there will be a new election in the 78th House District.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Aug. 5, 2016, incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-78th District, beat challenger Bruce Franks by 90 votes. Her entire margin of victory came from absentee ballots.

Franks and his attorney, Dave Roland, sued in an an effort to force a new election, arguing that irregularities in the absentee ballots made the results invalid.

Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Business was brisk Friday afternoon at the St. Louis County Election Board, where lines of people – most of them elderly --  were waiting to cast an absentee ballot for Tuesday’s primaries.

The line of people waiting to sign in stretched across the lobby of the board’s headquarters in Maplewood, and the parking lot directly outside was full much of the time. Some motorists had to wait for an open space.