As the last votes were added into the Will County Clerk’s tabulation system on election night, something went wrong.
It was around 9:30 p.m. Suddenly, the number of votes in some elections became smaller.
It was particularly noticeable to the newspaper reporters, campaign workers and police officers, among others, who happened to be waiting in the lobby of the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, for the unofficial results of the primary election. The tallies were going backward instead of forward.
That’s when the waiting began.
About two hours later, Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots announced that the unofficial results finally were available. With
Judy Wiedmeyer, her chief deputy, Will County Assistant State’s Attorneys Mary Tatroe and Phil Mock, and employees from Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb., standing with her, Voots explained what had gone wrong.
As the votes cast during the early voting period were added to the computer system, an undetermined malfunction happened, Voots said. The glitch somehow decreased the number of votes that already were in the system.
“Elections are very complicated,” she said.
So Voots and her staff had to redo and double check their work, a process that took about an hour and a half.
“The integrity of the election is the most important thing to me,” Voots said. “I just want to take that extra time to make sure the totals were correct on my web site.”
By Wednesday afternoon, Voots had met again with the representatives from Election Systems and Software, the company that made the county’s voting equipment. They still had not been able to determine exactly why the problem had occurred, she said.
“They assured me that the totals on my web site are accurate and the machines are accurate,” Voots said.
But they knew that the problem began when the early voting results were added to the system. Those votes had been cast using a new piece of equipment: the DS200 optical scanner, a vote counting machine. The scanner was used at sites offering early voting, such as the county’s township offices.
The DS200 was approved for use in Illinois this year. Voots chose them because the machines allowed voters to feed their ballots into a machine to be counted. In the past, the early ballots were put into sealed envelopes. The DS200 also has more capacity than other scanners already being used by Voots’ office.
Although unofficial election results now are available, the election isn’t over yet. There are a few more votes still to be counted – but these days, that happens in every election.
The last votes to be tallied are:
• Absentee ballots
These ballots must be postmarked by midnight on March 17, 2014. “As of this moment we have 245, but there could be more in the mail,” Voots said.
Those votes will be counted on April 1.
• Provisional ballots
Someone who came to their polling place and did not find an application on file cast these ballots. Although the polling place workers would allow that person to vote, the ballots must be carefully checked before they can be counted. There are 132 provisional ballots, Voots said.
• Aurora ballots
These votes were cast in the small part of the city of Aurora that is in Will County. The votes involve two elections: the race for Will County Sheriff and for Will County Board District 5.
“Those are not included in my website (currently). They will be after the April 8 canvas,” Voots said.