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Cole Co. judge upholds tossing out petition signatures

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A Cole County judge has upheld Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's decision to toss out thousands of signatures on two eminent domain ballot petitions.

Judge Richard Callahan ruled that petition circulators must be properly registered with the Secretary of State's office; otherwise, the signatures they collect cannot be counted.

The decision affects around 4,300 signatures from the St. Louis area.

Laura Egerdal is Communications Director for Carnahan.

"You know, at this point, (the) statute is very clear that we are prohibited from accepting signatures that were collected by unregistered circulators," Egerdal said.

Ron Calzone, who chairs the group Missouri Citizens for Property Rights, disagrees.

"We think on principal that the people who sign petitions should not be disenfranchised because a petition circulator failed to properly register," Calzone said.

Calzone also says they're weighing their options before deciding whether to appeal Judge Callahan's decision.

In a separate decision earlier in the day, Callahan also ruled that the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA) and the Munincipal League can join the lawsuit as defendants.

Both groups claim the proposed eminent domain ballot initiatives would hinder economic growth and infrastructure improvements.

Calzone says his group wants to turn the clock back to when eminent domain was used for truly public projects, such as roads, bridges and schools.

"We're trying to stop the private use of eminent domain...we don't think that you should lose your home, or your business, or your farm, so they can build another strip mall," Calzone said.

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