Little trouble this election in Kane County

Some problems here and there, but nothing like in the past

Published: 2/7/2008 12:09 AM

Unlike November 2006, there were no polls that failed to open on time in Kane County.

No electronic balloting machines that ran out of paper like March of last year.

And unofficial results were available by about 11:15 p.m., instead of 2 a.m. the next day as was the case in 2002.

Tuesday's primary election had its share of hiccups -- some voters may have received federal ballots by mistake -- but overall it went relatively smooth for Kane County Clerk John Cunningham's office.

"We have over 1,400 people out there. No matter how hard you try, you're still going to have the element of human error," Cunningham said. "They're doing an extraordinary job for us. We couldn't have an election without them."

Turnout was 39 percent, a 50 percent jump from the percentage of voters who cast ballots in the 2004 primary.

The number of Democratic ballots pulled Tuesday was 41,169, an 82-percent surge from the 22,526 in 2004.

Republican ballots totaled 41,693 this year, a 16 percent increase from the 35,772 taken in 2004.

Cunningham said some precincts were showing double the numbers of Democratic voters compared to last year, a sign he attributed to the hotly contested primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the open 14th Congressional District seat and two new judicial subcircuit positions in Aurora and Elgin.

The Kane County state's attorney's office, which is charged with investigating electioneering and other offenses, did not report any major incidents.

State's Attorney John Barsanti said his office received complaints about some Hispanic voters having problems at some Elgin-area polling places. But, he said, his assistants investigated those claims and found them to be unfounded.

Cunningham and Barsanti said the U.S. Department of Justice also had at least 10 people watching for irregularities in the area.

Other complaints were minor.

For example, some people complained about election signs being posted less than 100 feet from a polling place.

But Barsanti said that if, for example, voting was taking place in a church basement, that 100 feet is paced off from the basement door instead of the front door of the church.

More than 10,000 people participated in early voting this election, a threefold increase over spring 2007 when the option was first offered in Kane.

"It was a huge success," Cunningham said.

Kane officials counted the early ballots Tuesday night right after polls closed at 7 p.m. Interestingly enough, the early voting totals nearly matched the final outcomes of several races, such as: Chris Lauzen vs. Jim Oberweis for the 14th Congressional seat, the Kane County Board chairman's race and the three-way Republican U.S. Senate race.

"It almost looked like an exit poll," Cunningham said.