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Judge denies bid to nix new Jefferson City ward map ahead of Election Day

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

A judge has denied three Jefferson City voters' request to throw out the city's new ward map before next week's election.

But the lawsuit will still go to trial this spring.

Penelope Quigg, Carolyn McDowell and Douglas Thomas sued Jefferson City over the new ward map that was approved in November 2021. The Cole County Clerk's Office argued that it's too close to Election Day to make any changes.

A hearing was held over video chat Thursday morning.  

The Cole County Clerk's Office says Missouri statutes prohibit any changes to elections in week of the event. The election is set for Tuesday, when Jefferson City voters will decide on contested city council races in two wards.

Samantha Green, attorney for the voters, argued that Ward 1, which has 11,193 people including 3,472 people in prison, should be added to the current official population of 7,721; making Ward 1 30% bigger than the four others.

Prisoners are counted for in the U.S Census.

In 2020, the total population in Jefferson City was more than 43,000. With three thousand residing in the Jefferson City Correctional Center and the Algoa Correctional Center.

According to documents, under the city charter, all wards must have close to or equal numbers of people in them.

Green argued that since the total population was not included from the start, then the current ordinance is void and the election results will be void as well.

Green says they do not want the election canceled but for the wards to be reset to the prior ordinance and the election to continue based on the previous ward ordinance.

The city says it understands the charter detail. However, officials say they are concerned that if people have to be forced to vote at new polling locations it will cause confusion.

City attorney Ryan Moehlman declined to comment, saying the judge's order speaks for itself. County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer was not available for comment Thursday afternoon.

A trial is scheduled for May 27.

Joushua Blount

Joushua Blount hails from Cleveland, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in media communications from the University of Toledo. He also has a master’s degree from the University Of Alabama. Roll Tide!

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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