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Election prep underway

While it’s still September and the month of November still sounds far away, St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick and his department are already in the process of making final plans for the upcoming midterm election being held across the country on Nov. 6.

The county commission recently approved a bid of $25,555 for election supplies and programming of the voting machines.

“Just as a note, when we have an election year we budget about $233,000 to $250,000 to cover expenses,” said Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher. “It’s just amazing what an election year costs.”

Hedrick explained that it takes a budget of about a quarter of a million dollars to cover all of the expenses involved in holding two significant elections.

“On every even year we budget that much because we have to pay for the two elections in August and November which are large elections — the primary and the general,” he said. “The county has to pay for it at this point in time and I know that the state has passed a bill that they will pay their proportionate share, but they have to fund that. That won’t go into effect until this election here.

“But it does cost a lot to run those elections. It will probably run around $180,000 total and that’s the minimum amount. That’s the low end of it if we can cut back and keep the cost down. That covers all your poll workers, rent at all your polling places, the printing of the ballots and everything, mailing the absentee ballots and paying to have them sent back in — it covers every cost for the election.”

With absentee voting for the midterm election beginning next week, Hedrick said his department is already knee-deep in preparation for Nov. 6.

“The absentee voting starts Tuesday and the way it stands right now, Amendment 1 (seeking changes to the criteria used for legislative redistricting) will be on the ballot because the courts stayed an order to keep it on the ballot, but that particular item is in the court system right now and could come off of the ballot. It’s not a major thing because it just won’t be counted during that time, but we may end up having to reprint the ballots if that comes off, so we don’t have it on there.”

According to Hedrick, one of the most important keys to having a successful election is to have prepared poll workers at each voting site.

“We have poll workers right now and then we try to get more poll workers,” he said. “We go to each of the central committees — Democrats and Republicans — and we ask them if they have anyone interested to have them sign up to be a poll worker. We are OK right now, but because of natural turnover you have to constantly look for new ones to fill the empty spots.

“It makes all the difference in the world to have experienced poll workers because they know what to do at the polls because they’ve done it for so many years. They’re very good and you couldn’t run an election without them.”

Because Hedrick decided to retire from office at the end of his term in December, this midterm election will be the last of the many he’s overseen through the years.

“I’ll have to certify it and get some winners out of there before I’m totally done with it and then close that election out at the end of the month,” he said. “We’ll get that all done and then we’ll get ready to go for April of next year.

“The midterm election is a big election. It’s only second to the presidential election which is the biggest one because the one that the most people come out for. I wish people came out for every election like that one, but the presidential is the biggest of any of them.

“It feels kind of strange that this will be the last election because I’ve done so many of them over the years. It will be different whenever it comes election time and I don’t have to deal with it, but of course I won’t be leaving until the end of the year. We’ll actually start filing for the April election in December, so I will have a little bit to do about the next election, but not a lot.”

“It feels kind of strange that this will be the last election because I’ve done so many of them over the years.” — County Clerk Mark Hedrick

Because long-time St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick is retiring at the end of his current term in December, the November midterm election will be the last one he will oversee. He said it will feel strange when election time rolls again and he's not involved except as a voter.

Because long-time St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick is retiring at the end of his current term in December, the November midterm election will be the last one he will oversee. He said it will feel strange when election time rolls again and he’s not involved except as a voter.

According to County Clerk Mark Hedrick, one of the biggest keys to holding a successful election is having trained poll workers. He said that potential poll workers are found through the Republican and Democratic central committees who suggest those who might have an interest in the job.

According to County Clerk Mark Hedrick, one of the biggest keys to holding a successful election is having trained poll workers. He said that potential poll workers are found through the Republican and Democratic central committees who suggest those who might have an interest in the job.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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