1 min read
Posted on 11.20.10
  • 1 min read
  • Posted on 11.20.10

The St. Louis Election Board is another one of those entities for which city taxpayers pay the bills, but state-appointed officials make the decisions. It is an expensive operation, but most voters would not begrudge paying for a fair and efficient election authority.

For years, the city's election board was a mess, a secretive institution that combined the worst parts of patronage with the best parts of incompetence. Votes were counted slowly, tallies were reported incorrectly, registration rolls were poorly maintained, poll workers were untrained, and expenses were barely tracked. Some thoughtful appointments by then-Governor Matt Blunt, some good hires, a few retirements, and some loaned executives cleaned up the mess a couple of years ago and, until recently, the St. Louis Election Board has been a professional operation on which the city's voters could rely.

Recent hiccups in performance are worrisome. Disregarding the wildest (and even the less wild) claims by a Republican Congressional candidate about irregularities at both the city and county election boards, I am worried about the slow reporting of city election results and documents suggesting that some of the decisions of the chairman recently appointed by the governor were made without the sort of consultation that the bipartisan structure of the Election Board (and the board's own credibility) requires.

At this point, I am not suggesting fire. Just smoke.