Local

Tirio on McHenry County voting mishap: 'Very disappointing'

Missing votes alter 3 McHenry County races; Acosta wins Dist. 5 seat

McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler (left) and McHenry County Clerk-elect Joe Tirio (right) look up at a TV broadcasting election results Tuesday inside a packed room at Bulldog Ale House in McHenry.
McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler (left) and McHenry County Clerk-elect Joe Tirio (right) look up at a TV broadcasting election results Tuesday inside a packed room at Bulldog Ale House in McHenry.

Newly elected McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said he plans to improve accuracy of elections following news that his predecessor did not include tens of thousands of early votes, a margin that altered the outcome of several major races.

“It’s my understanding that there was a technical issue that prevented some of the votes from being displayed on the public-facing results website,” said Tirio, who currently is the county recorder. “That’s very disappointing, especially for Michael Rein, who believed he had won his contest.”

After Clerk Mary McClellan updated the county’s election website Thursday to include early voting numbers, the results of three major McHenry County races changed. Those additional numbers made County Board District 5 candidate Carlos Acosta the victor in his race over Republican incumbent Michael Rein.

It also meant that 14th Congressional District candidate Lauren Underwood carried McHenry County, and so did 33rd Senate District candidate Nancy Zettler. Underwood already had won her race – the 14th District covers multiple counties – over incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren, while Zettler still lost her overall race to opponent Donald DeWitte, who won the vote in Kane County by about 2,000 votes.

McClellan learned of about 33,000 missing votes after results showed 21 percent of 116,000 McHenry County ballots did not include selections for governor or statewide offices.​ After she realized that anomaly, she found that those votes were not included for any of the races. By Thursday afternoon, however, the votes had been added on the website into the totals, which do not become official until two weeks after the election.

“​I’d like to better understand the process for ensuring the accuracy of these displays and, once in office, will work to improve the process,” said Tirio. He takes over the clerk’s office on Dec. 1.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting in the midterm elections, Tirio had captured 54.8 percent of ballots (61,795 votes) to Democratic challenger Andrew Georgi’s 45.2 percent (50,991).

Before the Tuesday election, Tirio announced he would keep both jobs and leave the recorder’s $105,000 salary on the table to save taxpayers money.

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