Losers challenge KC election for Missouri House seat

Two losing candidates in a Missouri House race filed a petition Wednesday asking the chamber to invalidate the victory of Democrat John Rizzo and order a new election because of voting irregularities in the Democratic primary.

Rizzo defeated Will Royster by a single vote in the August Democratic primary, and then defeated Libertarian Sean O’Toole in the November general election. An appeals court previously upheld Rizzo’s election.

But O’Toole and Royster jointly filed a petition contesting the election — a somewhat unusual move that could lead to an investigation by a House committee and, ultimately, a vote by the full chamber on whether Rizzo belongs there.

Any such action would occur after Rizzo is sworn into office Jan. 5 alongside the other 162 newly elected members of the House of Representatives.

Rizzo said Wednesday that he’s willing to answer any questions from House members, but he said Royster was pushing “delusional ideas” by continuing to insist that the primary election victory was aided by voter fraud.

“This is nothing more than to tarnish my reputation, period,” Rizzo said. “This is probably the biggest case of a sore loser in the history of the state of Missouri.”

The petition by Royster and O’Toole contends that nine or more people — including some relatives of and a donor to Rizzo — wrongly voted in the Democratic primary despite living outside the 40th House District. An appeals court previously declined to appoint a special master to hear evidence on those claims.

The petition also reasserts a claim heard by the courts that a Rizzo supporter directed a group of Somalis who were unable to speak English how to vote in the primary election, and that 14 ballots cast for Rizzo were not initialed by election judges as required by law.

Missouri law requires candidates seeking to contest an election to do so within 30 days of when the election results are certified. Missouri’s general election results were certified Nov. 30.

The petition claims Rizzo’s primary election victory was invalid and, therefore, he was not qualified to be a candidate in the general election. It asks the House to subpoena Kansas City election records, conduct hearings and decline to allow Rizzo to serve in the chamber. It also requests a new election.

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