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Voting in the St. Louis Board of Aldermen president primary will look different

Natalie Noblett, 61, of Carondelet, places an American flag on a “vote here” sign on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, at the St. Louis Public Library in Carondelet. A primary election for the St. Louis’ Board of Alderman President’s seat will be held on Sept. 13.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Natalie Noblett, 61, of Carondelet, places an American flag on a “vote here” sign on Friday at the St. Louis Public Library in Carondelet. The library is one of five locations open for early voting and will be one of 15 polling places in the Sept. 13 primary for the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

St. Louis residents who vote next week in the primary for president of the Board of Aldermen will likely go to a location where they have never cast a ballot before.

Elections officials have opened five “voting centers” for people to cast ballots during a two-week no-excuse absentee voting period. Four of those sites, along with 11 other polling places, will be open Sept. 13, the day of the primary. New technology allows ballots to be printed on demand, regardless of the person’s registered precinct.

“The idea is to provide voters as many options as possible,” said Gary Stoff, the city’s Republican director of elections.

His Democratic counterpart, Ben Borgmeyer, said the locations were chosen with several factors in mind, including geography and where people live.

“If you look at the map of St. Louis, you see the parks, you see the cemeteries, voters don’t live there,” he said.

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Those 15 polling places will be the only locations for voting, compared to more than 70 during a regular citywide election. That, combined with the fact that regular voting locations changed in August because of city redistricting, is leading to a lot of confusion, said state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis.

“Their actions kind of seem to be like voter suppression,” Aldridge said. "The reality is, a lot of people don’t really look at their voter card. They’ve been knowing where they go to vote for the last several years.”

Borgmeyer acknowledged the confusion but said the changes were not done nefariously.

“It’s definitely a change,” he said. “But I will say when the November election happens, voting will be as accessible as it's ever been in the city.”

Alderman Jack Coater and Alderwoman Megan Green are running for Board President. Because the top two vote-getters in the primary advance, both will move on to the November election.

For the Sept. 13 primary, the voting center at the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners headquarters downtown is now open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Saturday hours on Sept. 10. The hours for the voting centers at the Buder, Carondelet, Julia Davis and Walnut Park libraries are:

  • Monday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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