County Board Candidates Await Mail-In Ballots To Settle Close Races | WGLT

County Board Candidates Await Mail-In Ballots To Settle Close Races

Nov 5, 2020

UPDATED 1:45 P.M. | It will be two weeks before the community knows the outcome of a contested McLean County Board race.

Republican incumbent Jacob Beard led Democratic challenger Val Laymon in District 7 which covers east-central Bloomington, by 11 votes after the ballots were counted on Tuesday.

Another contested County Board race ended Friday when Democrat Jackie Gunderon conceded in her bid to unseat Republican incumbent Susan Schafer. Gunderson ended her bid after learning from the Bloomington Election Comission there were 336 outstanding mail-in ballots in their south Bloomington district. Schafer led by 503 votes. 

"In an unprecedented election, I feel really proud of the race that we ran and I look forward to seeing Susan continuing her progress on public and mental health initiatives in McLean County," Gunderson said.

Bloomington Election Commission Executive Director Tim Mitchell said the still-contested District 7 race (east-central Bloomington) has 364 outstanding mail-in ballots that would be counted during a vote canvassing on Nov. 17 if they are returned. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3.

The commission also has 13 provisional ballots, Mitchell said. 

Mitchell said the commission has about 1,700 outstanding ballots in all. He noted that percentage of mail-in ballots not returned is comparable to those not returned during the March primary when about 200 mail-in ballots weren’t returned for a lower-turnout election, but he said it’s hard to predict how many may come back this time.

“Probably not a ton, the difference is this time there’s potential,” Mitchell said.

Both Beard and Laymon have indicated they want to see the final vote tally before making any declarations about the race.

Mitchell said Thursday his office has received 47 mail-in ballots since the election. 

Also Thursday, Democratic candidate Rachael Lund conceded in her race against McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre after learning the number of outstanding ballots in her District 5 race were fewer than McIntyre's 547-vote margin of victory.

“Obviously, I am disappointed we did not get the result that we wanted, but I am incredibly proud of the campaign that we ran,” Lund said. “We gave it everything that we had.”

Balloting in that race was managed by the McLean County Clerk’s office that handles all election matters in the county outside of Bloomington.

The county board saw three newcomers win election on Tuesday: Hannah Beer, Lea Cline and Benjamin Webb. Republicans hold a 12-8 advantage on the board, providing leads in the contested races hold up.

Recount potential

Mitchell said a candidate may request a discovery recount if his or her vote count is within 95% of the winner’s total--about a 1.3% margin of the leader. The commission would then review a 25% sampling of ballots to look for irregularities or miscounts. The candidate could then request a complete recount which they would have to pay for.

Mail-in ballots

Mitchell said of 15,000 mail-in ballots the commission issued for the November election, nearly one-fifth of them were canceled because those voters chose to vote in person. He said around 125 ballots weren’t counted because the ballot either lacked a signature, or wasn’t placed in the certification envelope, making it a so-called “naked ballot.”

Mitchell said in each case, the commission mailed the ballot back to the voter and indicated the steps needed to make it complete.

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