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Election '08: City precinct misses half of ballots in count  (IL)

Stephen Blackman & Megan Crepeau   The Daily Northwestern   06 February 2008

Votes were miscounted in at least one Evanston precinct Tuesday, casting doubts over local race results, said one poll watcher for Rep. Jan Schakowsky's (D-Ill.) campaign.

Election returns from the first precinct of the Second Ward were missing 247 of its 540 ballots, said poll watcher Shannon Seiberling.

The polling place, located at the McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St., used a mix of optical-scan and computerized voting systems. Seiberling said the error probably occurred while poll workers were compiling the digital results from the four touch-screen voting machines at the polling place, when the scanner was supposed to add its total automatically.

"This is just one precinct," Seiberling said. "Who knows if this is happening all across the board?"

The number of missing votes equals the number of paper ballots that were scanned, though there is no way to determine whether this is what caused the discrepancy.

When they noticed the error, the election judges present called the Cook County Clerk's office, which told them to certify the electronic results anyway, Seiberling said. The paper ballots were placed in a secured envelope, where they can be recounted in the event of a dispute.

The election department of the clerk's office, which is responsible for conducting elections, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

A spokesman for Larry Suffredin's campaign for Cook County State's Attorney said he was unaware of any reports of miscounted ballots.

"When the final results come in and there is a discrepancy, we'll have a discussion about that at that time," said Christopher Lackner, Suffredin's press secretary. "But for now, Ms. Alvarez is the Democratic candidate."


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