Saline County election finally official

Eric Fodor

Votes from a computer card not counted at the April 7 election have been added to the total vote, changing the result of two races.

The new results indicate Ronnie Bond, who was elected to the Galatia School Board and then named board president by his peers, was not elected to the board. Eric Gates will take his place on the board. The Carrier Mills alcohol referendum also changed -- the village is now "wet."

Everyone presumed the wet-dry referendum failed by one vote.

"Carrier Mills is going to be wet by seven votes and the winner in Galatia is going to lose by one vote," McClusky said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

County Clerk Willie McClusky discovered a computer card with 110 absentee votes was never entered into the computer system on election night. The votes are spread across 10 precincts, but the critical ones change outcomes in Galatia and Carrier Mills.

After notifying the State Board of Elections and State's Attorney Mike Henshaw, McClusky called Bond and Gates and left a message at the Carrier Mills Municipal Building. 

Bond said he wasn't happy, but respected McClusky's decision to fix the error immediately, McClusky said. Gates laughed -- he waited 14 days from election day to the canvass to find out he'd officially lost. Now Gates has found out he won after all, McClusky said.

"They're both stand-up individuals," McClusky said.

The Galatia School Board has met since the election -- the board will have to decide what to do about votes already taken by Bond, State's Attorney Mike Henshaw said.

The Carrier Mills Village Board is having a special meeting Monday night, although the central focus of the meeting won't be the liquor referendum, Mayor Louis Shaw said in an e-mail message Saturday.

The mistake was discovered Thursday afternoon when registered voters who had voted at the election were being entered into the computer system.

"Every time we do anything, we go back into the system to make sure every piece of math matches," McClusky said.

This time, the math didn't match -- voters outnumbered the election tabulation by 10 votes. It became obvious there was an error -- one of three cards containing absentee ballots was not put in the system on election night.

"Once you know that you've got an error, the question arises of how do you fix it," McClusky said.

After consulting with legal counsel at the ISBE, McClusky learned he still had time to recertify the election, so the mistake could be rectified without everyone having to go to court.

On Friday, McClusky convened election judges Marilyn McGill, Wanda Oglesby and Sue Syers to verify their signatures on the printed tape from the April 7 elections. Then, the card, which McClusky has taken to calling "the culprit" -- was entered into the computer system while the judges watched.

Another election canvass was held Friday afternoon after the news conference.

McClusky said it never entered his mind to sweep the error under the rug. Embarrassment could have been avoided, "But I would always have known," McClusky said.

"I can't take any stand but that we have to count these votes."

McClusky said his office has never had an error in the election.

"But when you have an error, you toe up to the line," McClusky said.

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