JEFFERSON CITY — Election officials across Missouri will conduct a recount of the narrow passage of a constitutional amendment creating a right to farm, as opponents of the measure seek to reverse the results.
The recount on Constitutional Amendment 1 is expected to begin in the coming days. The secretary of state on Monday was officially certifying the results of Missouri's Aug. 5 primary elections.
Those results show that voters approved the right-to-farm amendment by a margin of 2,490 votes out of nearly 1 million cast, a victory of one-quarter of a percentage point. Missouri law allows the losers to request a recount whenever the margin of victory is less than one-half of a percentage point.
The amendment makes farming and ranching official constitutional rights, similar to existing protections for the freedoms of speech and religion. Missouri is just the second state, after North Dakota, to adopt such a measure.
One of the opponents seeking a recount is Wes Shoemyer, a former Democratic state senator from northeast Missouri who is president of Missouri's Food for America. Shoemyer said he's not aware of any particular election problems that would cause the results to be reversed.
But "when you're at a statistical dead heat, you don't know for sure, so want a recount," Shoemyer said.
A leader of the group that campaigned for the measure said the recount was unfortunate but expected.
"We think it will be kind of a waste of the state's money, because we don't think the outcome is going to change," said Dan Kleinsorge, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care.
With electronic vote-counting machines, "it's not very likely that they're going to find several thousand votes," he said.
This will mark the fourth statewide recount in Missouri in the past 20 years. None of the prior ones changed the ultimate outcome.
When supporters of a failed 1994 constitutional amendment about casino games sought a recount, the margin of defeat grew by 145 votes and the measure ultimately failed by 1,412 votes out of more than 1 million cast.
Recounts also were requested by losing candidates in 2006 Republican auditor's primary and the 2008 Democratic attorney general's primary. In both cases, the recounts resulted in slightly larger margins of victory for their opponents.
The right-to-farm measure was hotly contested in Missouri. Agricultural industry groups such as the corn, soybean and pork associations helped fuel a more than $1 million campaign for the measure. Opponents spent about half that much, financed heavily by the Humane Society of the United States.
The vote margins also were close enough to request recounts in two state legislative primaries. India Williams, who lost by 12 votes to Democratic Rep. Bonnaye Mims of Kansas City, said Monday that she would seek a recount. But Charles Groeteke, who lost by eight votes to Rob Vescovo in a three-way Republican state House race in Jefferson County, said he would not request a recount.