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Grider requests recount in recorder of deeds race

After receiving a report on the Nov. 6 election from County Clerk Mark Hedrick at its Tuesday morning meeting, the St. Francois County Commission approved his office’s certification of the results — but the Daily Journal has learned a request has been filed in district court requesting a recount for one of the races.

Incumbent Steve Grider, a Democrat, narrowly lost to his Republican opponent Jay Graf by a difference of 36 votes. Grider has held the position for 31 years.

“These are certified now as the elected offices for the county with an asterisk on the recorder of deeds that may end up having a recount,” Hedrick said. “It has to be taken to court to have the recount. That’s the only one that will fall within the parameters for a recount.”

Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher asked Hedrick, “So, we’re voting to certify the election results as they were election night as certified, and then that could change through court action in that one case?”

Hedrick said, “Yes, then the [circuit] court will handle it from that point.”

After the motion was made by Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson to accept the certified election results, County Administrator Gary Matheny asked about the timeframe in which the court is likely to approve having a recount of the recorder of deeds election.

“It’s actually, technically, 30 days but I have requested that it be done as quickly as possible, so they don’t run forever and ever, Hedrick said. “The court’s aware that there may be a suit filed to have a recount and they are going to try to put that through as quickly as possible.”

Wilkinson asked Hedrick if a recount is automatic in the case of a close vote.

“It’s not automatic,” he replied. “Anything under 1 percent they can ask for a recount, but it still has to go through court because the court has to order how that recount is going to be done.”

Hedrick said that one military ballot was received and several provisional votes were counted.

“But it ended up the same thing,” he added. “It just split out — well, not the same amount — but the same difference in the total. There was a 36-vote difference after we did the military and the provisional ballots.”

Contacted Tuesday night, Grider confirmed that he had filed a document that afternoon to request a recount be performed and said, “This way I’ll know for sure. Otherwise I’ll always be guessing. I thank everybody for their support and I just felt like I owed it to everybody to find out for sure.”

Later in the meeting, Hedrick asked the commission to approve several position title changes in the county clerk’s office at the request of incoming county clerk, Kevin Engler. Hedrick is retiring at the end of December after 16 years in office.

“I met with the county clerk-elect, Kevin Engler, the other day,” Hedrick said. “He came in and we spoke about this. I will be short two positions on the election side due to a retirement and one who left. We are down to two and he feels, along with myself, that we’re not going to be able to find employees to come in to work on the election side due to the amount of education they have to have, along with the operation of computers. It takes special people to be in the election portion of it because we have to deal with a lot of people. They have to deal with poll workers and members of the public, and it just takes a special person.

“At this point in time, under the policy, we would have to bring them in as a deputy clerk, which is a very low grade. It’s the lowest grade there is in the county. We feel that we need to retitle that an election clerk because I’m only going to have one experienced person for him at this point left — and that would be Jackie [Jones]. She’s been here a number of years and we’re hoping to be able to hire someone before I leave, so that I can hope train them also.

“Kevin is working to try and get two people to fill those positions, so that Jackie and I can train them before I leave at the end of December. I’m also recommending that we add a new title to the salary structure which would be an election clerk. There would be an election clerk I, election clerk II and election clerk III which works like every other thing we have here.

“[Engler] also mentioned that he would probably have a chief deputy, which I have not had because I’m here every day and I take care of everything. That was not put in my budget request, which I’m just requesting today that it be put in. Each office has a chief deputy or an office manager or an office director under them. They are the second in line. You would have a county clerk and then you would have that.”

Hedrick explained that he had never filled the vacancy when his chief deputy took another job, deciding instead to cover the duties of his office and the other employee. He agreed with Engler, however, that the position needed to be added.

A motion made by Wilkinson to approve Hedrick’s request was unanimously approved by the commissioners.

“These are certified now as the elected offices for the county with an asterisk on the recorder of deeds that may end up having a recount.” — Mark Hedrick, St. Francois County clerk

St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick explains the process of a recount of votes for recorder of deeds in the Nov. 6 election. After serving as county recorder of deeds for 31 years, Steve Grider, a Democrat, lost by 36 votes to his Republican opponent Jay Graf. Later in the day, Grider filed a request for a recount. 

St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick explains the process of a recount of votes for recorder of deeds in the Nov. 6 election. After serving as county recorder of deeds for 31 years, Steve Grider, a Democrat, lost by 36 votes to his Republican opponent Jay Graf. Later in the day, Grider filed a request for a recount. 

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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