Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ed Martin Write-up in Riverfront Times

Photo: Jennifer Silverberg and Riverfront Times

Riverfront Times has an exhaustive bio of Ed Martin. Here's an important bit about his work confronting voter fraud in St. Louis city:
In April 2002, U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, the Missouri Republican, brought an English springer spaniel onto the Senate floor in Washington, D.C. Making the case for national election reform, he wanted all to meet Ritzy. She'd been registered to vote in St. Louis.

The city had a bad reputation for voting irregularities, but the November 2000 election was truly a farce. Hundreds of citizens showed up to vote but found their names had been mistakenly dropped from the rolls. When a judge ordered an emergency extension of voting hours, a higher state court quickly reversed it — but folks kept voting anyway.

By the end of Election Day, Bond was pounding his fist on a lectern, declaring the whole thing "an outrage." Yet the problems persisted into the next year, when two prominent aldermen registered to vote — despite being dead.

In 2003, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board blasted the Board of Election Commissioners as an "unconscionable mess," where patronage employees "who owe their allegiance to politicians have never been known for their devotion to long hours and hard work."

Enter Ed Martin.

He'd been busy since leaving the archdiocese, clerking for a federal appeals court judge, getting married, having a baby and practicing law at Bryan Cave. Governor Matt Blunt appointed him to chair the bipartisan board in May 2005.

Within three months, Martin and his two fellow commissioners had fired or demoted seven top staffers, including some Republicans. They refined the duties of those remaining with a clear message: Do your job, or lose your job. Martin also handed over evidence of voter fraud to the authorities.

Even Democrats who wouldn't dream of supporting Martin's current bid for Congress give him props for his tenure as chairman.

Jeff Rainford, St. Louis mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff, lauds Martin for recruiting able workers to get the trains running on time. By November 2008, Rainford observed, the board of elections was "like night and day" from its 2000 woes, which he finds ironic, given that it probably hurt Martin's party.

"Though he is obviously one of the most partisan guys around," Rainford says, "Ed still wanted the place run right, even if that meant more Democrats would vote."
Some would argue that top city Democrats are supporting Ed Martin against Russ Carnahan. Nonetheless, Ed's work cleaning up election irregularities and voter fraud is one of the reasons he's the hardest working politician in Missouri.

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