Officials erred in reporting voter spike in Missouri suburb where teen was shot

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 08, 2014 6:56 PM

(Reuters) - A reported spike in voter registration numbers in Ferguson, Missouri, since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer was the result of an error by election officers, state officials said on Wednesday.

The St. Louis County Board of Elections reported earlier this month that nearly 3,300 Ferguson residents had registered to vote between Aug. 9 and Sept. 30, in time for the Nov. 4 election.

But election commissioners ran the wrong report, said Laura Swinford, spokeswoman for the Missouri Secretary of State's Office. There were in fact just 128 newly registered voters in the St. Louis suburb after the shooting through Monday, Swinford said in an email. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted an election official as saying the discrepancy came from a check of the wrong database.

Ferguson has about 21,000 residents. Wednesday is the deadline to register to vote, Swinford said.

The shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by officer Darren Wilson on a Ferguson street triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests. About two-thirds of Ferguson residents are black, but its mayor and five of six council members are white. At the time of the shooting, police came under criticism for having only three black officers on its 53-member force.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other groups have made efforts to get more blacks to register. Three seats on the City Council in Ferguson are up for election in April.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Peter Cooney)