Warning issued after ballot error in Campton Hills

Published: 2/2/2008 12:28 AM

An error that prevented at least one man from voting on hotly contested races in Campton Hills has prompted Kane County election officials to remind voters to check their ballots carefully before leaving the polls.

"If they feel that their ballot isn't right -- if there isn't something on there that should be -- they should not press the vote button," County Clerk Jack Cunningham said Friday. "Once you press that lever, (the ballot) is irretrievable."

So learned Mark Gordon, a 10-year resident of the Campton Hills area, when he showed up for early voting Wednesday at Campton Community Center.

Gordon said he didn't realize until after he was finished voting that an election judge had given him the incorrect precinct ballot, which lacked races for eight offices in the village of Campton Hills.

With the help of Campton Township GOP Chairman Dick Johansen, Gordon complained to the clerk's office but was unable to cast a ballot in the correct precinct.

The situation was particularly frustrating, Gordon said, because he was more interested in the village races than the presidential, congressional and county contests that did appear on the ballot.

"I just want to vote on the Campton Hills people," he said. "I feel that I've been denied a right."

Election officials said there's little they can do about such problems after the fact.

Deputy Clerk Jay Bennett noted that the judge's mistake was "absolutely" unintentional; the judge has not been removed. And while it is not a regular occurrence, officials said, similar problems happen from time to time.

"There's always a chance of human error. I'm sorry about that, but it's a fact of life," Cunningham said. "You have to be aware of that even as a voter."

The clerk's office received a few complaints in Campton Hills similar to Gordon's but said they turned out to be unfounded.

Bennett added that early voters who cast ballots on eSlate machines, as Gordon did, are given numerous opportunities to review their ballots for inaccuracies before finalizing their votes.

Voters who notice an error or something missing from their ballots should step away from the voting booth and notify an election judge.