Rules for Missouri Fourth-Class Cities
Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.
When elections are held
City elections are held on general municipal election day. This is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April (115.121). Elections are held annually.
What posts are filled?
Because terms are staggered, half of the aldermen are elected each year. The mayor, unless the four-year option has been exercised, is on the ballot alternating years. If an elected post is to be changed to appointive, the change may not take effect until the term of the elected official is completed.
No person may file for election to city office who is "in arrears for any unpaid city taxes or municipal user fees on the last day to file a declaration of candidacy" (115.346).
Deadlines and payment
Each county has an election authority — a board of election commissioners or the county clerk. These offices operate under statutorily fixed deadlines. They allocate election costs among the entities with issues or candidates on the ballot, based on the number of potential voters at the election. Elections in April are the least costly, with registered voters counting once in a school district, once in a municipality if they live in one and once in each special district where they live.
The election authority sends notice to the city of the deadline for having material certified for the ballot to the election authority's office. The authority should also send a bill for the estimated cost-share of the city for the election. The cost-share is to be paid before the election is held. Not all election authorities demand payment up front, despite this law.
When deadlines are missed, courts may and have intervened. Election issues go to the top of the docket because time is of great importance. Cities have been forced to hold costly special elections when deadlines pass unnoticed.
The election authority conducts all elections. The city may, by board resolution, opt to conduct its own election, but little is gained with this option. Essentially, the city clerk becomes a county clerk within city limits and the election must follow exactly the same rules as if the county were conducting it.