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Complaints Aplenty at 5th Ward Polling Location

Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)
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An empty chair at the entrance to the Carr Square Community Center polling location on March 5, 2013. Increased staffing was promised, in reaction to conflict-of-interest concerns. (KMOX/Michael Calhoun)

An empty chair at the entrance to the Carr Square Community Center polling location on March 5, 2013. Increased staffing was promised, in reaction to conflict-of-interest concerns. (KMOX/Michael Calhoun)

calhoun2 Michael Calhoun
A native St. Louisan, Michael Calhoun grew up listening to the Voice...
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — A candidate for 5th ward alderman alleges some serious election day “shenanigans,” designed to swing the vote.

Michelle Hutchins-Medina notes that a majority of ward voters are assigned to cast their ballot at the Carr Square Community Center, which just happens to be managed by incumbent alderwoman Tammika Hubbard’s father. The building will also host Hubbard’s victory party.

Hubbard supporters on the sidewalk outside the center Tuesday were handing out flyers promoting the party, encouraging people to return to the polling place later for “free food” and “free beverages.”Hubbard party flyer

Inside, Hubbard’s last name was in large, red lettering on the walls of the room where voting was taking place. The center is named for her grandfather. Huchins-Medina wasn’t aware of the name’s presence in the polling place.

“Wow,” she gasped. ” Unconscionable. Unacceptable. To me, that doesn’t make people feel like they have a fair voting experience.”

Carr Square voting location

In the early hours of election day, Hutchins-Medina and others saw a van blocking the building’s wheelchair ramp.

Hutchins-Medina said her first complaint to St. Louis election officials was two months ago, and said she was promised that staffing would be beefed at the center. But Hutchins-Medina said she then tried to check-in with the elections director again last Friday, and was told that the director had forgotten about their commitment.

“There is a tremendous amount of inattention to this,” she said.

Democratic Director of Elections Mary Wheeler-Jones, in an interview on Monday, at first said that there had been no confirmed issues there in the past, but then acknowledged that complaints had been commonplace.

“There hasn’t been really any problems there. It’s always perceived,” Wheeler-Jones said, also promising that she would consider moving the polling location before the next election.

Hutchins-Medina’s reaction: “I can’t seem to understand why the Board of Elections hasn’t acted upon it after numerous requests.”

She is encouraging supporters to keep their smart phones at the ready while inside the polling location.

Wheeler-Jones stressed that there had been no previous incidents worthy of investigation and that the center has been a long-time polling place.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s office told KMOX News that they “recommend any appearance of conflict of interest be avoided” by local election authorities.

KMOX © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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