CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — Some central Illinois races went down to the wire on Tuesday night and those counts aren’t finalized yet. The day after the votes were tallied, the county clerk says there are still hundreds of ballots on their way to his office. Some races have come down to a few dozen votes one way or the other, but the numbers won’t be final for a couple weeks.
People could postmark their vote by mail ballots as late as Tuesday. But for now, the winners we talked with are happy, even with their slim margins.
If you think the night of the election is exciting from your living room, just imagine what it’s like if your name is on the ballot.
“It was totally crazy,” said Jon Rector.
Rector got elected to another term as a Champaign County board member on Tuesday. He beat his opponent, Peter Tracy, by 38 votes.
“I always told myself I just need one more vote than the other guy,” said Rector. “So when it was all over, I was like, ’38 votes, I’m just so grateful, I’m so blessed,'”
As Champaign County clerk Gordy Hulten will tell you, election night results are still unofficial. So what do they do when they end up this close?
“There is no automatic recount in Illinois, but for races that are close enough, the losing candidate can ask for what’s called a discovery recount,” said Hulten. “They will essentially pick some votes for us to count again.”
That could lead to a court order for a full recount, but Hulten says recounts don’t usually change the result.
“We’ve had a couple recounts in Champaign County over the years since we’ve started using this optical scan paper ballot technology,” said Hulten. “All of the recounts matched the original count exactly, so recounts with this sort of technology are very unlikely to change margins. When you’re talking about 131 votes out of 92,000 plus cast, we’re talking thousandths of a percentage point.”
A thousandth of a percentage point. That’s what it came down to in the race for county auditor. John Farney kept his job over challenger George Danos.
“We knew it was going to be a close race, no matter what, but we’re very excited to be able to continue the next four years as county auditor,” said Farney.
That’s just another reminder that every vote counts.
Hulten considers the county board race with a 131 vote margin a really, really close race. He doesn’t think the vote by mail ballots will change the winner, but the candidate that doesn’t win can still ask for a recount. We did also try to get in touch with the losing candidates for each of these races, but never heard back.
The Champaign County auditor’s race was also tight between those two last time around. In 2012, Farney got the job with 51.43% of the vote. Danos had just 48.57%. The race this year was closer. Farney led by a 50.08% to 49.92% margin.