ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The union representing city police officers is forced to toss out its election results — after it says blank ballots were found in a secretary’s desk.
The mid-September election gave Sgt. Dave Bonenberger the upset victory over incumbent President Sgt. Tom Walsh by a margin of just 15 votes. Those results have now been invalidated by the Association Board, a new election ordered and the secretary fired.
“The election was ripe for fraud, but there’s no way to determine based on the records that were kept and the procedures that were followed whether election fraud occurred,” said Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda.
Roorda says the scandal came to light when the blank ballots and ballot envelopes were found in the secretary’s desk.
“There is no reason that anyone other than voting members of the Association should have a ballot or ballot return envelope in their possession,” Roorda said, “The fact that the ballots were not marked with any kind of distinguishing mark and could have been easily reproduced brings the entire election under scrutiny.”
Other irregularities have also been uncovered.
“The list of who the ballots were distributed to was not retained,” Roorda said, “The return envelopes were not retained. Those envelopes are the only thing with any sort of distinguishing mark to allow us to know if the ballots were properly cast.”
When asked if the potential for election fraud in the police union warrants a criminal investigation, Roorda responded that it’s an “internal matter.”
“From our perspective the investigation is concluded,” Roorda said, “The attorney found improprieties. The board acted on those improprieties, and there’s no further investigation required.”
Roorda believes there was “no mischief” by anyone running for office in the now invalid election.
“There was never a hint that the board was accusing any successful candidate of foul play in the election,” Roorda said, “This was about the way the election was conducted and the behavior of a former employee.”
The union plans to hold the election again in time to install new union officers by November 1st.