Joliet City Council outcome still up for grabs
By Bob Okon email@example.com April 10, 2013 5:45PM
Updated: May 12, 2013 2:12PM
There are about 870 ballots still to be counted in Joliet, leaving the outcome of the city council election virtually unsettled.
The unusually large number of ballots to be counted on April 23 could affect the outcome of other races as well.
But the impact is most obvious on the neck-and-neck finish among the three incumbents trying to hold onto a spot on the Joliet City Council.
Challenger Jim McFarland’s victory as the leading vote-getter appears intact because he has a 1,149-vote lead over the second-place finisher from Tuesday night and is likely to get a large share of the yet uncounted ballots.
But incumbents Jan Quillman, Michael Turk and Don Fisher are separated by only 60 votes, meaning any one of them still might retain their council seats.
There are three openings on the council, so one of the incumbents will be out. Which one is even harder to tell than Tuesday night, when Quillman and Turk already had said they would have to wait until the April 23 count before knowing if their respective second- and third-place finishes would hold up.
“With that many votes and all three of us, who knows what’s going to happen?” Turk said Wednesday.
The large number of ballots yet to be counted in Joliet was surprising not only to candidates, but also to Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots.
Voots said her office has not determined the number of ballots yet to be counted countywide. She instructed her staff Wednesday to get a count on the number of ballots in Joliet because of the unusually close council race.
“When they gave me that number, I said, ‘That can’t be right,’” Voots said.
But, Voots said, she verified the 870 number at least is “a ballpark figure,” leaving room for error and missed ballots. Also, absentee ballots still are coming in.
Voots said the large number of absentee ballots reflects a trend of voters taking advantage of rules that make it possible to vote from home without showing they cannot be in town on Election Day.
“More and more people are taking advantage of ballots mailed right to their homes,” she said.
On April 23, the clerk’s office will count the late-arriving absentee ballots, which account for 745 of the ballots still to be counted in Joliet. The Tuesday election totals included only absentee ballots that arrived through Thursday, Voots said. Any ballot that came in Friday or later and is postmarked before midnight Monday still will be counted.
Also to be counted April 23 are 99 provisional ballots, which were cast Tuesday although the valid status of the voter has yet to be determined, and 26 grace-period ballots allowed to voters who registered late.
“That’s a lot of votes,” said Fisher, who right now is the fourth-place finisher but could keep a spot on the council with a swing of just 52 votes.
The totals in the Joliet council race as of now are McFarland, 5,921; Quillman, 4,772; Turk, 4,764; and Fisher, 4,712.