Eastern District to implement new voting system for Appellate Judicial Commission election

20 September 2005

Eastern District to implement new voting system for Appellate Judicial Commission election

ST. LOUIS – In mid-October, the clerk of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, will send election notices and ballots to eligible attorneys for the November 5, 2005, election of the Eastern District attorney member of the Appellate Judicial Commission.  This year’s election is unique in that it is the first time in Missouri, and likely in the entire United States, that any such election will be conducted using a combination of electronic balloting and paper balloting in accordance with procedures adopted by the Supreme Court of Missouri under Rule 10.165, effective September 1, 2005.  The Supreme Court of Missouri adopted Rule 10.165, which authorizes electronic voting in whole or in part for this election, after the Missouri General Assembly removed money from the Judiciary’s budget for conducting this election using mailed ballots as has been done in past years.  The term of the present Eastern District attorney member, Gerard Carmody, expires December 31, 2005.

Electronic Balloting

The clerk’s office will e-mail election notices to all attorneys who have an e-mail address on file with The Missouri Bar.  Once the voting period is open in mid-October, the election notices will contain a link to the election website.  Voting electronically will be a four-step process – logging on to the Web site and verifying eligibility to vote, voting, confirming and recording the vote, and printing the vote.

Eligible voters will enter their bar numbers and PIN numbers, found on the lower right corner of their Missouri Bar cards, once they have logged on to the election website.  The electronic election software will not permit anyone to access the ballot who does not enter the Missouri Bar number and PIN number.  In the event that any attorney has misplaced his or her bar card, the attorney may request the PIN number from The Missouri Bar Web site at www.mobar.org or by calling The Missouri Bar at 573-635-4128.  The PIN number on record with The Missouri Bar as of September 14, 2005, is the PIN number a lawyer must use to vote electronically. To protect the security and integrity of the election, after the lawyer has cast one vote electronically, the software will prevent any further access to the ballot by that Missouri Bar number and PIN number.  An error message will be displayed to anyone attempting to vote who does not appear in the voter file or who already has voted.  

Once the voter’s eligibility is verified through her or her Missouri Bar number and PIN number, the voter may cast his or her vote for one candidate by checking the box next to the candidate’s name or may write in a candidate.  The voter will then click on the “Continue for Confirmation” button to proceed to the next step of confirming the vote.  A prompt will appear that instructs the voter to review the selected candidate, and, if the selection marked is correct, to click “Record My Vote.”  After submitting the vote, the fourth and final step is to print the vote if the voter wants such a confirmation for his or her records.  

Paper Balloting

Some lawyers will vote using paper ballots – the newly admitted attorneys at the most recent bar enrollment ceremonies and the attorneys who recently have moved their residences into the Eastern District but are on record with The Missouri Bar at their former addresses outside the Eastern District.  The clerk’s office also will mail paper ballots to attorneys with no e-mail address on file with The Missouri Bar, attorneys whose e-mails bounce back to the Court of Appeals as “Undeliverable,” the newly admitted attorneys and those attorneys who notify the Court of Appeals that they are unable to vote electronically.

Election Day and the Vote Counting

The electronic balloting will close at midnight November 4, 2005.  All paper ballots must be received in the clerk’s office by 10 a.m. November 5, 2005. On November 5, lawyers at the Court of Appeals and volunteer lawyers will count papers ballots starting at 10 a.m.  The clerk’s office will view and print the tabulation of votes cast electronically for each candidate on the day of election.  The clerk’s office will verify that no lawyer cast a vote both electronically and by paper ballot by comparing the list of electronic voters produced by the election software with the signature cards submitted by voters with their paper ballots.  If any voter is found to have voted by both electronic and paper ballots, all votes cast by that person shall be disqualified and removed from the voting results.  The total of electronic votes and paper ballots will be combined to determine the final vote count for each candidate. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of all the votes cast, there will be a run-off election December 10, 2005, between the candidate with the highest and next highest number of votes at the November election.  The winner of that election will serve a six-year term as the Eastern District attorney member of the Appellate Judicial Commission.

The Appellate Judicial Commission nominates and submits to the governor names of applicants for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court of Missouri and the districts of the Court of Appeals.  The commission is comprised of the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, three citizens residing in each Court of Appeals district appointed by the governor, and three members of The Missouri Bar residing in each court of appeals district elected by the attorneys of that district.  The commission reviews the applications, interviews the candidates and selects three nominees.  The governor appoints one of the three nominees to fill the vacancy.  After the judge serves one year, the judge’s name is placed on the ballot in the next general election, and the votes decide whether to retain the judge based on his or her performance.  This plan is known as the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, and the Appellate Judicial Commission plays an integral role in this plan.

Anyone who needs additional information or would like to volunteer to count ballots on November 5 and December 10 should contact Laura Roy, clerk, Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, at 314-539-4300.