St. Francois County race ends in tie; re-vote scheduled for September

ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) – More than two weeks since election night and one race is still too close to call; it couldn't be any closer.

The Republican St. Francois County Commission District 1 race was decided by one vote August 2.

It is now undecided again.

After more than 3,100 votes cast and a recount, the race is again tied.

By law, it's either flip a coin or vote again. The candidates have decided to vote again.

Incumbent Gay Wilkinson was the winner on election night – 50.02% to 49.98% for his opponent, two-term State Rep. Linda Black. It was a one-vote margin: 1,588 to 1,587.

“Everybody came up and told me they were the one vote. They were right. If they hadn’t have voted, it would have had a different outcome,” Wilkinson said.

“I got up early the next day, immediately my mother and I went and picked up all of the (campaign) signs,” Black said. “I wanted to get them up quickly. When the election is over, you want to do that. But then as time has gone on, I realized I should have just left them up.”

A recount turned up three votes the machines missed.

“They put the mark by the box, not in the box, so the machine didn’t recognize it and the team of 4 people confirmed that was a vote for that candidate…and when we did the total numbers it ended up being a tie,” said St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick.

Wilkinson picked up one more vote. Black picked up two. With 3,178 votes cast, each candidate had 1,589 votes. And thus the campaign continues.

The county’s growth seems to be the top issue.

“We’ve done tremendous things. We’ve expanded the personnel. We’ve got new equipment. We’ve acquired new buildings. We’ve completed four bridges. We’ve done miles of asphalt,” Wilkinson said.

“For years, historically in the past, the county commission was just looked at simply as looking at the roads and looking at the bridges. Statutorily, that’s not what a county commissioner does. So I want to bring that experience I’ve had in Jefferson City back here to my local community.”

All parties agree on one thing.

“Every vote does count in an election!” Hedrick said.

“That really does prove that every vote counts,” said Wilkinson.

“It makes you realize every vote does indeed count and to take the time to come out to the polling places on election day is essential and it could come down to this,” Black said.

The election is Thursday, September 8. Absentee voting starts Monday. Candidates are entitled to recounts in races decided by less than one percent of the vote. Wilkinson would have asked for one, too, had he lost by that one vote, he said.