Recount possible in legislative contest

By Mike Genet

With all absentee and provisional ballots and counted and results certified by the Jackson County Election Board, State Rep. Robert Sauls’ margin of victory over Republican challenger Vicki Riley increased to 45 votes – still slim enough to trigger a recount in the 21st District race if desired. 

Vicki Riley
Robert Sauls

Certified results this week showed Sauls with 7,682 votes (50.06 percent) and Riley with 7,637 (49.76), a difference of just three-tenths of a percentage point. There were 28 write-in votes cast in the Independence district.

Riley says she had been advised a recount would be automatic, since the margin between votes is less than 1 percent. Election Board Co-Director Tammy Brown said state law shows Riley must request a recount through the secretary of state’s office within seven days of the results being certified, which is Monday. Brown said Thursday morning the Election Board had not yet heard from Riley.

“Missouri doesn’t have automatic recounts,” Brown said. 

State law says a candidate can request a recount if the margin is 1 percent or less for offices filed with the secretary of state. For offices filed only with local election authorities, such as mayor or school board, the margin is 0.5 percent.

The 21st District covers a large portion of Independence, from west of the Square east to nearly Susquehanna and south almost to Centerpoint Medical Center. 

Results from election night had Sauls with a 25-vote lead – 7,634 to 7,609. Sauls, who won a three-person race in the 2018 Democratic primary by just 32 votes to succeed Rep. Ira Anders, said shortly after election night he was confident his lead would hold up.

If a recount occurs, Brown said ballots from 13 precincts in Independence would have to be recounted.