Missouri Secretary of State Office
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115.526. Qualifications of candidates may be challenged, by whom, procedure—dis- qualification, when.—1. Any candidate for nomination to an office at a primary election may challenge the declaration of candidacy or qualifications of any other candidate for nomination to the same office to seek or hold such office, or to have his name printed on the ballot, and any candidate for election to an office at a general or special election may challenge the declaration of candidacy or qualifications of any other candidate for election to the same office to seek or hold such office or to have his name printed on the ballot. Except as provided in sections 115.563 to 115.573, challenges shall be made by filing a verified petition with the appropriate court as is provided for in case of a contest of election for such office in sections 115.527 to 115.601. The petition shall set forth the points on which the challenger wishes to challenge the declaration of candidacy or qualifications of the candidate and the facts he will prove in support of such points, and shall pray leave to produce his proof.
2. In the case of challenge to a candidate for nomination in a primary election, the petition shall be filed not later than thirty days after the final date for filing for such election. Except as otherwise provided by law, in the case of challenge to a candidate for election to an office in a general or special election, the petition shall be filed not later than five days after the latest date for certification of a candidate by the officer responsible for issuing such certification. In the case of a disability occurring after said respective deadlines, the petition shall be filed not later than five days after the disability occurs or is discovered. Answers to the petition may be filed at the time and as provided in sections 115.527 to 115.601, specifying the qualifications of the candi- date for holding the office for which he is a candidate for election or for nomination.
3. The procedure in such matters shall be the same as that provided in sections 115.527 to 115.601, to the extent that it is applicable and not in conflict with the provisions of this section. For the purposes of this section, as used in sections 115.527 to 115.601 the word “contestant” shall mean the challenger and the word “contestee” shall mean the candidate whose declaration of candidacy or qualifications are challenged. If the court determines that the candidate chal- lenged is not qualified to seek or hold the office for which he is a candidate for nomination or for election or to have his name printed on the ballot, it shall so rule. The right of appeal exists, and may be taken, as provided in sections 115.527 to 115.601.
4. Any candidate finally determined to be not qualified to seek or hold the office for which he is a candidate for nomination or for election shall be disqualified as a candidate for nomina- tion for such office at the primary election or as a candidate for election to such office at the general or special election, as the case may be. Except as otherwise provided by law, whenever a candidate for nomination or election to an office dies, withdraws or is disqualified prior to the election, such candidate’s name shall not be printed on the official ballot.
115.527. Challenge of nomination at primary, who may make.—Any candidate for nomi- nation to an office at a primary election may challenge the correctness of the returns for the nom- ination charging that irregularities occurred in the election.
115.529. Circuit court to hear primary election contests.—Circuit courts shall have juris- diction to hear and determine all primary election contests. (L. 1977 H.B. 101 § 13.005) Effective 1-1-78
115.531. Petition to contest primary election, contents of—filing in incorrect circuit, procedure.—1. Not later than five days after the official announcement of the results of a primary election is issued by the election authority or the secretary of state, as the case may be, any candidate desiring to contest the primary election shall file a verified petition in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of any circuit in which part of the election was held and in which any alleged irregularity occurred, unless the office involved in the contest is that of a circuit or associate circuit judge not subject to section 25, article V, Constitution of Missouri, in which case the verified petition shall be filed, heard, and determined by an adjoining circuit court selected by the contestant as specified in section 115.575. The contestant shall only be required to file one petition with the circuit court for each election contest regardless of the number of counties within the court’s jurisdiction. The petition shall set forth the points on which the contestant wishes to contest the election and the facts the contestant will prove in support of such points, and shall pray leave to produce such proof. The judge of the court shall immediately note on the petition the date it was filed and shall immediately set a date, not later than five days after the petition is filed, for a preliminary hearing. If the petition is filed in vacation, the judge of the circuit court shall immediately convene the court in special session for the purpose of hearing the contest. If no regular judge of the court is available the supreme court shall immediately assign another judge. The circuit court in which the petition is filed shall have exclusive juris- diction over all matters relating to the contest and may issue appropriate orders to all election authorities in the area in which the contested election was held.
2. If a petition contesting a primary election is filed in an incorrect circuit, the court in which it is filed shall have jurisdiction and shall promptly transfer the suit to the correct circuit court. (L. 1977 H.B. 101 § 13.010, A.L. 1997 S.B. 132, A.L. 2003 H.B. 133) (1980) “Official announcement” of results of primary election for state office is announcement of Secretary of State pur- suant to final determination of primary election results by board of state canvassers, and not announcement by county clerk. Black v. Bockenkamp (A.), 607 S.W.2d 176.
115.533. Procedure after petition filed.—1. Immediately after a petition is filed, the clerk of the circuit court shall issue a summons upon the petition to the contestee, returnable by the day designated by the circuit court to the circuit court. The summons shall be served in any county of the state in the same manner provided for service of process in civil actions. If the contestee cannot be found within two days, the summons shall be served by leaving the summons and a copy of the petition at the residence address shown on the contestee’s declaration of candidacy and by posting the summons in a conspicuous place in the office of the clerk of the circuit court.
2. Immediately after the petition is filed, the clerk of the circuit court shall send by certified or registered mail a certified copy of the petition to the officer responsible for issuing the state- ment announcing the results of the contested election and to each election authority responsible for conducting the election in any area where an alleged irregularity occurred. All officers and election authorities so notified shall immediately suspend all action on the office until the contest has been determined.
3. Not later than four days after the petition is filed, the contestee may file an answer to the petition, specifying reasons why his nomination should not be contested. If the contestee wishes to contest the validity of any votes given to the contestant, he shall set forth in his answer the votes he wishes to contest, and the facts he will prove in support of such contest and shall pray leave to produce his proof.
If you wish to challenge the qualifications of a person who has filed for office, you would need to do so in writing after the candidate files and prior to certification of the candidates to the ballot. In the 2012 candidate filing period, for example, challenges would need to be made prior to the end of May, 2012.