Certified vote count changes result of one race in St. Clair County

News-DemocratApril 23, 2013 

A vote count Tuesday of provisional, challenged or late-arriving absentee ballots flipped the outcome of one race in St. Clair County but left three other close races unchanged.

The race that changed saw challenger John "Skip" Kernan beat incumbent Mark W. Burk for St. Clair Township highway commissioner by 27 votes, 1,484 votes to 1,457.

Burk gained 14 votes in Tuesday's procedure, but Kernan picked up 50 more. In the race, three ballots were disqualified because of signature issues.

"We did it," Kernan said with a tremor in his voice and a sniffle, in a phone call to his wife, Kathy, after he heard the news.

"We worked our behinds off getting these early ballots, trying to get people to vote early," Kernan said later.

Kernan said he wore a sweater vest printed with some four-leaf clovers and a ring with a shamrock design "for luck."

Burk did not attend the count at the St. Clair County Building.

The three other close races in St. Clair County were:

* Incumbent Belleville Alderwoman Dorothy Meyer lost by two votes, 316-314, to Janet Kay Schmidt in the Ward 2 race. Meyer, who had 313 votes on election night, picked up one vote.

* Incumbent Belleville Alderman Tim Carpenter lost by three votes, 289-286, to Johnnie Anthony in the Ward 4 race. Anthony had 287 votes on election night and picked up two votes Tuesday.

* Incumbent Caseyville Mayor George Chance lost by four votes, 576-572, to Leonard "Len" Black in that race. On election night, Chance trailed by 12 votes, 572-560.

"It was a squeaker, right down to the line with a few votes differences," Black said after the count. "It's amazing how everybody says their vote doesn't count but it really does count."

In the Black-Chance race, one ballot was thrown out because the signature did not match the signature on the voter's driver license, according to St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney.

Chance, who had been mayor for 27 years, said he plans to ask for a recount. Delaney said candidates have the next 10 days to ask for a discovery recount.

Candidates also could contest the results by filing with the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk for a court hearing.

Belleville Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden said Carpenter also will ask for a recount because he noticed some "irregularities" with the absentee ballots. Hayden did not elaborate.

Two late-arriving absentee ballots went to Anthony in the Ward 4 race.

Hayden, who ran unsuccessfully for Belleville mayor, aligned with Carpenter and other independents in the April 9 election as the Unified Independent Coalition for All of Belleville.

Schmidt, also with the independent coalition, said she has been on pins and needles since the election waiting for Tuesday's count.

Schmidt had a three-vote lead before a late-arriving absentee ballot gave another vote to Meyer, of the Belleville Good Government Party.

"I wish Dorothy well," Schmidt said. "I have faith in the system that it was fair."

The votes will be certified as final April 30 during an official canvass.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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