- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A federal court has ordered St. Louis County to include the names of non-major party candidates on county and municipal ballots in future elections.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie White told the county Wednesday that it could no longer enforce a charter provision limiting local ballots to candidates nominated by the parties receiving the two highest vote totals in the previous Missouri gubernatorial election, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1nTC9Ci ) reported Friday.

The suit followed an April special election to fill a County Council vacancy created by Steve Stenger’s 2014 election as county executive.

St. Louis County’s election board initially declined to include Constitution Party candidate Cindy Redburn on a ballot listing the Republican and Democratic choices.

She was later added to the ballot, but the party moved forward with its legal challenge. Redburn received 544 votes in a three-way race won by Democrat Kevin O’Leary.

The Audrain County-based Freedom Center of Missouri represented the Constitution Party in its lawsuit.

“It is vitally important to our constitutional system for citizens to be able to cast ballots for candidates that truly represent the voters’ ideas and policy preferences,” Freedom Center co-founder Dave Roland said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our lawsuit has helped to restore these important First Amendment protections to citizens in St. Louis County.”

White also ordered the county to cover nearly $38,000 in the challengers’ legal costs.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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