With discovery of uncounted ballots, Vernier now appears to have won re-election in Shiloh (IL)
SCOTT WUERZ - News-Democrat 08 April 2009
The discovery of more than 400 uncounted ballots seems to have overturned the results of the race to be village president.
Initial results showed incumbent President Jim Vernier had lost the race Tuesday to challenger Bill Sankus but when the votes were found, Vernier ended up leading by 19 votes.
Vernier said he spent a sleepless night pouring over the voting results after he apparently lost by 90 ballots to Sankus, a two-term trustee. At about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, as he sat at his computer, he noticed something didn't seem right.
"In Precinct 1, the results showed only a handful of votes," Vernier said. "I know from past elections that it usually has at least two or three hundred votes cast. It was impossible that they only had something like seven votes."
St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney said a problem with one of the voting machines at the Ward 1 polling place in Whiteside School caused 407 ballots not to be counted.
When they were tallied, Vernier turned a 536-446 loss to what appears now to be a 704-685 re-election victory.
"There were two machines at that polling place, one with the touch screens for people with disabilities and optical scan everybody else votes in," Delaney said. "When voting was done, we uploaded both cards to be counted. But for some reason (the computer) did not count optical scan."
Delaney apologized to both candidates for the error and confusion.
Sankus said he knew there was a problem with the count Tuesday night because the numbers "just didn't add up right." But he didn't expect the results to be overturned.
"We did a little celebrating, but it was pretty reserved because of the uncertainty," Sankus said. "I knew there was going to have to be some checking into it."
Sankus ran for village president instead of running for re-election as trustee.
Illinois law allows a recount if less than 5 percent separates the candidates. But Sankus said Wednesday that he had not yet decided if he would challenge the results that Delaney said were "complete but unofficial."
Provisional ballots and absentee ballots that are dated by Election Day that have not yet trickled in could still change the total.
Delaney said if no one had noticed the discrepancy that the error would have been caught during canvassing when the tape that records balloting on the electronic machines was reviewed.
"I fully believe it was just an honest mistake," Vernier said.