ST. LOUIS — Turnout for a special primary election held Tuesday to determine who would move on to the November general election for aldermanic president fell short of the 10-20% officials had hoped for.
Out of the 191,587 registered voters in St. Louis, about 6% cast an absentee ballot or visited one of 15 locations throughout the city to vote for Alderwoman Megan Green or Alderman Jack Coatar—or both candidates. Green received just under 54% (6,497) of votes cast, while about 46% (5,607) went to Coatar.
In 2020, voters approved Proposition D, which eliminated the partisan primary election for certain offices, including aldermanic president. Instead of voting for one candidate, voters can select as many candidates as they approve of.
The election was held after the surprise resignation of Lewis Reed earlier this summer. Reed, the longtime aldermanic president, was indicted on federal corruption charges to which he pleaded guilty under an agreement with prosecutors. Two other former aldermen—John Collins-Muhammad and Jeffrey Boyd—also accepted plea agreements. All three are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.
Under St. Louis' municipal code, a vacancy in the office of aldermanic president must be filled for the remainder of the term at the next general election. Reed's term was set to expire in 2024.
Prop D lets anyone who wants to run for the position to do so as a non-partisan candidate. The two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election.
A judge ruled in early August that a third candidate, Mark Kummer, was ineligible because although he gathered enough signatures to appear on the ballot, he did not meet residency requirements.
Shortly after the final results were in Tuesday night, Green said she was "heartened by the support I got, proud of the endorsements that are powering this campaign (and) grateful to the campaign staff and volunteers."
"(I am) determined to work even harder between Thursday and Election Day on November 8," she said. "I'm looking forward to working together to build a St. Louis that works for everyone."
Coatar sent an email to supporters saying the "results weren't what we hoped for," adding "November 8 will be completely different."
"This was a very unusual election at a strange time of year, with new rules and new polling locations that together created a lot of challenges for voters. ... A large ballot is expected to drive voter participation (in November)," he said.
The primary election on Tuesday was also the first in St. Louis under Missouri's new voter ID law, which requires a government-issued photo ID. Voters without a photo ID can cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.
The provisional ballot would be counted only if the voter returns later in the day day with a photo ID or if election officials can verify their signature with existing voter records.