Right to Farm Amendment gets a vote recount

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has ordered a recount of the votes for Amendment 1, the so-called Right to Farm measure that passed by an extremely slim margin during the Aug. 5 state primary election.

The hotly contested amendment divided state voters, with less populated rural counties mostly voting in favor of the measure while urban and suburban areas of the state heavily opposed the measure.

The recount was petitioned by Wes Shoemyer, a former state senator and current president of Missouri's Food for America (FFA) organization. In his petition, Shoemyer pointed out that under Missouri Revised Statute 115.601(1), "Any person whose position on a question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast on the question shall have the right to a recount of the votes cast... on the question."

The count on the Secretary of State website placed the total yea votes for Amendment 1 at 499,581 to 497,091 nay votes. That is a difference of just 2,490 votes or a difference of .25 percent, well within the margin of the one percent difference prescribed by the statute. As such, the recount will now take place, and must be certified by Secretary Kander no later than Sept 15.

Supporters of the Amendment, such as the Missouri Farmers Care group which met with local residents in West Plains on June 12, say the recount is a waste of taxpayers' money, as there is little chance that the results will be overturned.

In Oregon County, Amendment 1 passed with 990 votes in favor, and 795 votes against, a difference of 195 votes. County Clerk Tracey Bridges told The South Missourian News that her office will conduct its recount on Thursday, Sept 4 beginning at 8:30 a.m. The recount is not open to the public.

Bridges said, according to state law, the recount will be conducted with a bipartisan team of election judges, a selection of what are termed disinterested persons (selected from a list sent by the Secretary of State to the counties) and legal representation from the two sides of the issue. Paper ballots will be physically counted by hand individually, and the machine counts will be re-tallied as well. Bridges couldn't say how long the recount might take, but said, once workers start, they will keep at it until the process is finished. Bridges does not anticipate any issues complicating the recount procedure.

Recounts are a rare occurrence in Missouri, with the state only having four in the past 20 years, none of them changing the outcome of their respective elections. It is unknown at this point what the recount will cost the state or Oregon County.

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