The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 17, 2012

Jasper County clerk: Tornado victims’ status key to voting precincts

Former Joplin official raises questions about residency requirements for April 3 election

JOPLIN, Mo. — A former Joplin city department director says he thinks the outcome of the April 3 election in which voters narrowly approved the Joplin School District’s $62 million bond issue was invalid because residents who had moved outside of Joplin were allowed to return to their old precincts to vote.

Doug Joyce, former parks and recreation director for Joplin, has taken his questions to local and state election officials, asking for a review of voter records.

Bonnie Earl, Jasper County clerk, said some Joplin voters who were temporarily displaced by the May 2011 tornado, such as those in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers in the Webb City School District, were allowed to vote in Joplin because they indicated they planned to move back to their former voting precincts.

Earl said she discussed her decision with officials in the secretary of state’s office before the school bond vote. The measure passed by only 46 votes out of more than 8,600 cast.

“I told them if they were planning on moving back, they could vote in their old precincts,” she said. “It’s not like they moved by choice; these people had been displaced.”

But, some Joplin area voters may have to change their registration to vote in the Aug. 7 primary, Earl said. She said the clerk’s office is trying to track down county residents who may have permanently moved and have no plans to return to their former precincts.

Doris Moorehouse, a deputy clerk in the elections office, said the office is still hearing from tornado victims who say they plan to be back in their old neighborhoods by election day.

Clerk’s decision

Joyce, who lives in rural Joplin but in the Joplin School District’s boundaries, said his issue with the April 3 vote has nothing to do with the outcome of the election, but rather how the vote was conducted. In addition to raising the question with local election officials, he has contacted the Missouri secretary of state.

Joyce, in a letter to the Globe, said the election should temporarily be put in abeyance and a total review of voter records should be conducted. No review is being planned by the state. Ryan Hobart, communications director for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, said county clerks are in charge of local votes, such as the April 3 city and school election.

“Ultimately, the decision is the clerk’s,” he said.

The office also cited a Missouri Supreme Court decision handed down in 1972 that found that Christopher “Kit” Bond met the requirement that a candidate must be a resident of the state for 10 years to run for governor, even though he had lived outside Missouri for 10 years.

Residency requirements were the issue cited by Joyce, who said voters who signed in at the polls “were saying that was their correct address, when in most cases, that address was an empty lot.”

Earl cited voters’ plans to return to Joplin as one of the reasons she allowed them to cast ballots in their old precincts. Intention also was an issue in the Bond decision, in which judges ruled that residence was largely “a matter of intention” and did not require “an actual, physical presence.”

Gregory Magarian, an expert in voting and constitutional law at Washington University in St. Louis, said he sees the matter as similar to one cited in the Missouri Constitution, which allows students who move for college to maintain their home address for voting.

“You can’t vote twice, in two different places, and no one is saying that happened,” he said. “It stands to reason the clerk would display some flexibility because in terms of residence, those folks have experienced the ultimate hardship.”

The April election was not the first time voting plans were shifted as a result of the tornado. Joplin voters last August were counted in their old precincts, but they all voted at Northpark Mall in an election that extended the city’s quarter-cent sales tax for parks and stormwater projects. That passed by a large margin.

The $62 million school bond issue in April required approval by four-sevenths, or 57.14 percent, of the voters. In Jasper and Newton counties, 57.68 percent voted for the issue.

Change of address

Moorehouse said workers in the county clerk’s office are changing voter registrations of anyone who has moved, based on responses to forms mailed to residents using change-of-address information provided by the post office. The forms ask voters to indicate if they have moved out of state, moved inside the county, or moved outside Jasper County but remained in Missouri.

“They’re asked to sign it,” she said. “If they do that and provide a new address (in Jasper County), we change their address on their voter registration.”

Before the primary election, those voters will be mailed new voter identification cards with their new addresses and precinct information, Moorehouse said.

“But we’ve received a lot of calls from people who say, ‘I’m rebuilding on my property, and I’ll be in by the election,’” she said. “In that case, they don’t need to do anything.”

Voters who have moved and want to vote in the August election also may go to the county clerk’s offices in Carthage or Joplin and register their new address. The offices are located on the main floor of the Carthage courthouse, and the second floor of the Jasper County Courts Building at Sixth Street and Pearl Avenue in Joplin.


July 11 is the deadline to register, or to change addresses on voter registration records, for the Aug. 7 primary election. Most local races in Jasper and Newton counties will be decided in Republican primaries in August.

Text Only
Local News
  • Former Webb City teacher charged with sexual contact with student

    A former Webb City High School choir teacher was charged Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court with having sexual contact with a student. According to a probable-cause statement, Carrie Njoroge, 30, of Oronogo, had consensual sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old male student in her office at Webb City High School during the evening hours of April 15.

    April 23, 2014

  • Carthage Council reorganizes

    The Carthage City Council has one new member after Paul McCoy was sworn in Tuesday as 2nd Ward councilman. Oaths of office also were repeated by Mayor Mike Harris, and Councilmen Lee Carlson, Jason Shelfer, Kirby Newport and Brady Beckham, all re-elected in city balloting on April 8. Councilman Dan Rife was re-elected as mayor pro tem.

    April 23, 2014

  • New Powell bridge to open today

    Great River Associates engineer Spencer Jones, of Springfield, is planning a final inspection of the new Powell bridge on Cowan Road off Route E, to be followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. today. The initial cost for the bridge was put at $800,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Spring a great time to visit Carver monument

    It occurred to me when the woman passed me — for the second time — as I ambled along the walking trail at George Washington Carver National Monument that perhaps I should step up the pace of my amble. The only problem is, the walking trail at the monument isn’t a place that necessarily inspires a stepped-up amble. To me, the Carver monument is a place to linger.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Season opens Friday for Carthage Art Walk

    Art, music and other activities are scheduled Friday when a new season of the Carthage Art Walk opens on the courthouse square. Displays and programs set for 6 to 9 p.m. will showcase galleries, artists, restaurants and shops. Special events will feature a timed painting and a demonstration of an 1896 printing press.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri lawmakers file three resolutions calling for impeaching governor

    While Gov. Jay Nixon was in Nevada, Mo., on Wednesday, a Missouri House panel led by Republicans began hearing arguments on three measures calling for impeaching him. Nixon has downplayed the proceedings as a legislative “publicity stunt.” One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is critical of Nixon for waiting several months to call special elections to fill three vacated House seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • r042314psumove2.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Moving day for biology and chemistry building at Pittsburg State

    They didn’t all go two-by-two, and the person in charge wasn’t named Noah, but nonetheless, critters of all shapes and sizes were on the move Wednesday. Students, volunteers and staff members helped Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, relocate everything from a pair of prairie dogs to a vocal macaw named Charlie so that Heckert-Wells Hall — the biology and chemistry building where they are housed on the campus of Pittsburg State University — can undergo a $4.4 million transformation in the coming months.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3M plant expansion to create 22 jobs

    An $18.7 million expansion at the 3M Co. manufacturing plant in Nevada will create 22 new jobs, a company official said Wednesday. “We started 43 years ago as a small manufacturer,” said Todd Cantrell, plant manager, in a meeting with employees. “We are now the largest 3M plant in the state of Missouri and one of the largest of all 3M plants.”

    April 23, 2014

  • Nixon: Tax-cut bill holds fatal flaw; area lawmakers say stance totally false

    Another year has brought yet another tax-cut fight between Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly, and on Tuesday, Nixon announced that he had found what he sees as a fatal flaw.

    April 22, 2014

Must Read


A Missouri Senate committee has adopted a state budget provision that would prevent public colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition rates to students living in the country illegally. Do you agree with this?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter