It now appears that the wrong candidate was declared winner of the 2010 Democratic primary in Missouris 19th District.
By BARBARA SHELLY
The Kansas City Star
That would be the contentious race between John Rizzo and Will Royster. Rizzo survived a recount, a court challenge and an appeal to the Missouri House leadership, and served a full term in the House before being re-elected without opposition in November. The record shows he defeated Royster by one vote.
But, as The Star is reporting, Rizzos uncle has pleaded guilty in federal court to voting in Rizzos district when he in fact lived north of the river.
The issue of John Moretinas residence was raised after the election. Rizzo at the time told me his uncle had lived in his district for some months recently, and was residing north of the river because of health problems.
That seemed plausible, although Roysters camp correctly noted that tax records showed Moretinas official residence was in Gladstone. It is not uncommon for people to move back and forth; the issue with voting is where they have established their permanent residence. Apparently, federal prosecutors believe that is the Gladstone address.
Ill eat a bowl of crow, here. I was too willing to accept Rizzos explanation for the discrepancy. Maybe Rizzo really thought the uncles official residence was still in Columbus Park, although he should have known better. Moretinas guilty plea means the election ended in a tie. And if Moretinas wife also voted in Rizzos district, as Roysters backers allege, then Royster was denied a legitimate claim to the Democratic candidacy.
That said, only a legal investigation was going to settle the residency claim, and its taken over two years to do so.
Since verifiable claims of voter fraud are hard to come by, its inevitable this one will be seized upon as a case for stricter voter laws. But lets note that the onerous photo ID measures being contemplated in Missouri wouldnt have prevented Moretinas residency fraud. One could easily produce a current drivers license or passport with a slightly old address.
This looks like a case of an overzealous family member making a bad mistake, which came to light because of the closeness of the race. It should serve as a cautionary tale, but not a cause for a wholesale rewriting of voter laws.