An official recount request, including a signed petition, for Question No. 2 on the bond issue ballot was presented to the Hinckley-Finlayson (H-F) School District last week. According to state statutes, an automatic recount is not called for on any vote more local than a county election. In order to start the recount process, a petitioner must collect at least 25 signatures from residents of the district.
The only issue involved in the recount was Question No. 2 regarding the bond issue. Question No. 2, which requested funds for secured entrances and fitness spaces, passed during the November 7 general election, 441 votes yes to 437 votes no. The recount was held on November 28, at 1 p.m. in the H-F board room.
According to Pine County Auditor Cathy Clemmer, because the difference in votes was less than one-half of one percent, the recount is publicly funded, with the bill falling to the school district.
According to the guidelines set in the Recount Guide from the Minnesota Secretary of State, the recount was conducted by the canvassing board. This board includes the school board clerk, Steve Grinsteinner, who is the recount official; another school board member, in this case Angela Grochowski; the county auditor, Cathy Clemmer; the court administrator, LuAnn Blegen; and Hinckley City Council member Tim Burkhardt. Typically it would be the mayor of the largest city in the district, but Don Zeman was not available and appointed a replacement. Also present was a representative from each side of the question. Toby Hickle represented the “No” side and Paula Hoffman represented the “Yes” side.
The rules of the recount, in accordance with the guide, were sent out to all members of the canvassing board before the recount and also read aloud before the proceeding started. The ballots were hand counted by Blegen and Clemmer and each placed in one of three stacks: yes, no or blank. The petitioner or their representative did have the right to challenge which pile a specific ballot was put into. There were no challenges made from either side. The ballots were then counted in piles of 25, then counted as a whole.
The totals from the Finlayson precinct were 82 yes and 61 no, with three ballots in the blank category. Of the ballots cast in Hinckley, there were 359 yes votes, 376 no votes and nine blank ballots. The totals of the two sites were 441 yes and 437 no. These numbers exactly matched the original official count from November 7. The passing of Question No. 2 is official.