Will County Clerk’s Office Response to Court Ruling Changing Outcome of Valley View School District Election
The Will County Clerk’s Office on Tuesday amended the results in the school board race for the Valley View School District in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election by order of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, making James “JT” Boudouris the third-highest vote getter and Sandra E. Carlson the fourth-highest vote getter. Judge Roger Rickmon discarded eight votes for Carlson in court on Tuesday because Election Judges at either a Polling Place or an Early Voting location did not initial blank ballots before they were issued to the voter. The judge’s ruling gave Boudouris 3,291 votes and Carlson 3,286 votes, a five-vote victory for Boudouris. The election results previously had been certified with Carlson having a three-vote victory over Boudouris. Boudouris challenged the outcome of this narrow election in court.
The County Clerk’s Office was disappointed by the judge’s decision to disregard those eight votes cast in only five precincts in the Valley View School District. The County Clerk’s Office, in a court response filed in June, argued strongly that if ballots without initials were to be disregarded, the standard should have been applied to every precinct in the district, not just the five selected by the challenger. The Will County Clerk’s Office was prepared to devote resources needed for a district-wide examination of all ballots. The Clerk’s Office takes no interest in which candidates win their elections, but it does have an abiding commitment to the administration of the election process.
Disappointment with the court ruling does not negate the fact that training for more than 1,500 Election Judges needs improvement. The Will County Clerk took office in December and began preparing for the April 2 Consolidated Election utilizing training practices that already had been established. The process of improving those practices already has begun.
The Clerk’s Office is:
· Revamping its Training Manual to make it easier for Election Judges to understand and use.
· Creating online training videos to refresh and guide Election Judges on key procedures as Election Day approaches.
· Developing plans to update Election Judges on key issues – the initialing of ballots now being the top priority – in advance of Early Voting and Election Day.
With more than 1,500 Election Judges in the field on Election Day and during Early Voting, the Clerk’s Office acknowledges the potential for human error. Our goal is to provide the best training to eliminate occurrences of human error that might impact the will of the voters. In addition to improving training, the Will County Clerk’s Office will work with our state lawmakers to determine whether legislation might prevent these situations from occurring in the future.