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McGrath’s Narrow Lead For Circuit Clerk Holds, As Ballot Counting Continues

Campaign signs competed for the attention of early voters at the main entrance to the Champaign County Brookens Center in Urbana, during the early voting period..

URBANA – The Champaign County Clerk’s office added another 1,917 ballots to its total Friday, as election workers continued to process vote by mail ballots, provisional ballots and mail ballots that had been challenged. (Find a link to the latest election totals here)

Chief Deputy Clerk Angie Patton said the number of additional ballots arriving in the mail daily has slowed to just a handful each day. She said just five mail ballots arrived on Friday.

Patton says about 1,500 mail ballots sent out to Champaign County have yet to be returned. If they were postmarked by Election Day, November 3, they must be delivered to the county clerk’s office by November 17 to be counted.

The ballots counted on Friday widened Democrat Susan McGrath’s narrow lead  over Republican incumbent Katie Blakeman in the election for Champaign County Circuit Clerk. McGrath is now ahead by a 385 vote margin, with 44,913 votes to Blakeman’s 44,793.

In another close race, Republican Brad Passalacqua’s lead over Democrat Kellie Lee Mansfield for a county board seat tightened a small amount, to 307 votes. Passalacqua currently leads in the vote count, 5,616 to 5,309 for an open seat representing District Four on the county board.

Patton says it is unclear if the county clerk’s office will receive more ballots on Saturday. She says the Postal Service has informed her office that they are conducting sweeps in an effort to get any ballots delivered quickly.

Macon County: Ballot Counting Continues, But No Updates Until Nov. 17

Meanwhile, the Macon County Clerk’s office is also counting ballots that arrived in the mail after Election Day. But County Clerk Josh Tanner says those additional votes will not be announced until the office releases its official certified count on Tuesday, November 17.

Tanner says his office has been receiving only a few dozen ballots in the mail each day since Election Day. He says there are 1,668 mail-in ballots that have not been returned to his office at this point.

If enough of those ballots come back, they could potentially change the outcome of one close Macon County Board race. In County Board District Three, three candidates are competing for two seats. Republican challenger Ryan Kreke is in the lead, followed by Democrat Marcy A. Rood. Incumbent Democrat Bryan E. Smith is behind Rood by 77 votes.

Smith, an 18-year veteran of the Macon County Board, has already conceded defeat, according to the Decatur Herald & Review.

Tanner says there are only around 200 outstanding mail ballots in District Three, so the chance of Smith catching up to defeat Rood is small, but mathematically possible.

Tanner says the job of processing ballots can be a slow one.

“There’s a lot of moving parts in elections nowadays, on Election Day,” said Tanner. “And it takes even longer to deconflict that after the election.”

“Deconfliction” refers to the task of reconciling election data. One example is when a voter who has requested a mail-in ballot decides to vote in person instead. For that to happen, the voter must return, or “surrender” the mail-in ballot back to election authorities, to make sure only one ballot exists for each voter. Tanner says the voting record must then be amended to show that the mail-in ballot has been surrendered and was never used.

Jim Meadows is a reporter for Illinois Newsroom. Follow him on Twitter: @WILLJimMeadows .

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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