Eighty-two of the 211 absentee ballots in last week’s consolidated election have arrived at the Monroe County Clerk’s Office.
Most of those are valid, but Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean said he will not tabulate any votes until the April 16 deadline for those ballots to arrive.
A few of the ballots received will not be counted because the voter did not properly fill it out.
The absentee ballots are critical because many of the races in Columbia are too close to call with that many votes yet to be counted.
Most of the absentee ballots are from Columbia, McLean said.
As of last Tuesday night, the only race in which a candidate had enough of a lead to call was the race for Columbia’s Aldermanic Ward II. In that contest, incumbent Kevin Martens is beating challenger Harold McCarty Jr. with 311 votes to McCarty’s 211.
In other Columbia city council races, challenger Jay Riddle is leading incumbent Steven Reis 234 votes to 214 in Ward I.
In Ward IV, incumbent Steven Holtkamp has 263 votes to challenger Patrick McDermott’s 206.
Ward III’s Jeff Huch was running unopposed. He has 368 votes.
In the race to fill a two-year term on the Columbia School Board, Greg Meyer is leading incumbent Ted Schrader, 1,290 votes to 1,202. Of Meyer’s votes, 82 came from St. Clair County and the rest are from Monroe County. Forty of Schrader’s votes came from St. Clair County.
In the race for school board members to fill a four-year term, Lisa Schumacher is leading with 1,302 votes (76 from St. Clair County, 1,226 from Monroe County), followed by Scott Middelkamp with 1,290 votes (42 from St. Clair County, 1,248 from Monroe County). Tyson Search is next with 1,282 votes (39 from St. Clair County, 1,243 from Monroe County) and Cress Morr has 1,089 votes (74 from St. Clair County, 1,015 from Monroe County).
Those four candidates are running in the incorporated area. Only the top two vote getters will be elected.
In the unincorporated area school board race, incumbent Tammy Mitchell Hines is leading with 1,276 votes (82 from St. Clair County, 1,194 from Monroe County) compared to Phil Taylor’s 1,248 votes (45 from St. Clair County, 1,203 from Monroe County).
Only one of those candidates can be elected.
In other election news, the Republic-Times received a tip from a concerned citizen regarding one candidate’s conduct prior to the election.
Specifically, the person was concerned about Hines sending out absentee ballot request forms with all information except the signature filled in and a prepaid envelope, along with a sample publication ballot with her slate of candidates filled in to tell voters how to vote.
According to McLean, there is nothing wrong with either of those practices.
As recently as the midterms, candidates for Illinois governor were sending out absentee forms similar to Hines.
“It’s perfectly legal,” McLean said.
The same goes for sending out sample publication ballots with certain candidate filled in.
“Political campaigns have done that for decades,” McLean noted.