Challenger in STL Co Executive Race Awaits Final Count

Democratic Director of Elections Eric Fey says "several hundred" votes still need counting.

Kevin Killeen
August 08, 2018 - 3:28 pm

Mark Mantovani Twitter

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ST. ANN (KMOX) - (UPDATED 5:17 p.m.) It looks like Steve Stenger's razor-thin win in the St. Louis County Executive primary will hold.
 
Mark Mantovani had momentum, but it wasn't enough.

After counting the remaining absentee ballots, the election board says Stenger holds a 1,054 vote lead over challenger Mantovani. And what's still left to count is not enough to put Mantovani on top.
 
There are some 350 to 400 provisional ballots oustanding, and also about 20 military and overseas ballots.  
 
Earlier in the day, Mantovani released a statement saying he would not contest the election, and that he was awaiting the final count. But again, Stenger now has a more than 1,000-vote lead, and there aren't enough uncounted votes left to offset that.

Previous reporting:

The St. Louis County Board of Elections says there's a chance -- a small chance -- that the outcome of the race for county executive could change. 

Incumbent Steve Stenger was declared the winner, beating challenger Mark Mantovani in the Democratic primary by 1,100 votes. 

But Democratic Director of Elections Eric Fey says "several hundred" votes still need counting.

"The result is not final by any means," Fey said. "After every election, we always have a number of absentee ballots and provisional ballots that will need to be counted, and we still have several hundred absentee and provisional ballots that need to be counted."

Mantovani released a statement saying the uncounted votes "exceed the current difference" between Stenger and Mantovani.

Counting the absentee ballots should take little time, but provisional ballots can take longer, because the credentials of each voter have to be verified.

Provisional ballots are cast when someone shows up to vote and there's some question of whether they're registered. On Election Day, those provisional ballots are set aside to be sorted through later.

Asked what the chances are of the Stenger victory being upended, Fey says it's possible, but not likely.

"That would be a very low percentage chance," Fey said. "I wouldn't put it at zero, but it would be very low."

As with every election, this one will be audited.

"We go back and we reconcile the numbers from every single polling place, to make sure the number of signatures, the number of voter tickets, the number of ballots cast all match up," Fey said. "In addition to that, we manually had re-count 5 percent of the precincts by random selection."

After the Stenger-Mantovani race is certified by the election board on August 21, if the margin of victory remains less than 1 percent, the loser would have the option of asking the courts for a recount, Fey said.

Here is the complete statement released by Mantovani's campaign:

"Please be advised of the following:  With respect to yesterday’s County Executive election, currently it is not our intention to contest the election. We've been advised that there are uncounted and outstanding provisional ballots that currently exceed the current difference between the Stenger and Mantovani vote totals. Under those circumstances, it is probably necessary and appropriate to allow the normal statutory election procedures to be completed and allow the Election Board to certify the results according to its normal procedures. Mark Mantovani has great confidence in the Election Board and its leadership and he does not wish to extend the uncertainty associated with the election, but customary election procedures have to be carried out-as they would be anyway.  Mark also wanted to make certain that we thank our many loyal supporters who have stood with him to create change and improve the quality of government in St. Louis County."