Vote count continues in Will County sheriff’s race

There were a number of close races in the primary elections Tuesday in the Naperville area.

In the 81st state House district, incumbent Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove barely defeated challenger Keith Matune, also of Downers Grove, in the GOP primary.

The vote total was 6,753 for Sandack and 6,600 for Matune. There was no candidate in the Democratic primary Tuesday.

You would think that would be the closest race in the area, but the Will County sheriff’s race in the GOP primary still does not have an official winner.

Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said she usually cautions candidates in close contests not to start celebrating until every vote is counted — two weeks after the election.

“The numbers could change,” she said. And that’s exactly what some candidates are hoping after Tuesday’s primary.

Nick Ficarello, one of two Republican contenders for Will County sheriff, was not conceding the race though unofficial vote totals gave him 220 fewer votes than Ken Kaupas.

Voots still had to tabulate 245 absentee ballots and process 132 provisional ballots — those in which voter registrations were questioned. A team of election judges will verify registrations and count those ballots April 1, she said. The primary vote will be canvassed and made official April 8.

The city of Aurora, which has its own election system for 5,700 voters in seven precincts in multiple counties including Will, also has 22 provisional ballots but no absentees, Voots said.

Is it mathematically possible to change the outcome of the race?

“I really can’t say,” she said. “You really don’t know.”

In her experience as county clerk, though, the results haven’t changed based on yet-to-be-counted ballots.

“It’s never happened before, but anything is possible,” Voots said.

The sheriff’s race is one everyone has been talking about, she said.

A bit of a computer glitch that wasn’t resolved until late on election night also has been a topic of discussion.

After all 303 precincts were counted, Voots’ team prepared to put in the early voting ballots, but the computer would not accept the results, she said. She basically started over, and fed all the memory cards from the computerized voting machines in all precincts back into the system “as an extra safety measure,” she said.

“What’s most important is that people trust the election process,” Voots said. “We could have been done by 9 p.m. but instead we were here till 11 p.m. I feel better that we did that.”

Regarding the tight sheriff’s race, Ficarello declined to comment, saying he was waiting for all ballots to be counted.

On his campaign Facebook page, he posted: “Thank you everyone for your continued support. We are waiting for absentee and provisional ballots to be counted for the final outcome of this race. Stay tuned …”

Kaupas stopped short of claiming victory, saying he is “confident” that his lead will hold up when the final votes are counted.

“Neither my opponent nor I could have predicted such a close race,” he said.

Sgt. Mike Kelley, who emerged the winner in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination for sheriff, said he would not speculate on the Republican race and doesn’t care who his opponent is in November.

“I have my message and my platform, and that is not going to change,” he said.

The No. 1 issue is the budget, he said.

“The sheriff’s department has always been underbudgeted. I hope to be able to explain to the county board where the money is going and why we need it,” Kelley said.

Unofficial vote totals showed Kelley with 5,556 votes, Lt. Steve Egan with 4,226 and retired Lt. Ed Bradley, 4,104.