WHEATON – With a "head start" on the historic number of vote by mail and early voting ballots, DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek predicts that a lot of the county's election results will be reported within an hour of the 7 p.m. poll closing Tuesday night, with a "good representation" of results by the end of Tuesday night.
Kaczmarek said that as of Monday many of the mail ballots have been processed already, or "are being processed as we speak." The clerk's office announced on Sunday that already more than half of DuPage voters had cast ballots, with 171,539 early in-person votes and another 156,271 by mail.
"We hope to have many of the [mail ballots] processed by 7 p.m. Tuesday and completely scanned and ready to be counted," Kaczmarek said. "The majority will be done [Tuesday]. We do value accuracy over speed in DuPage County, but there should be a good representation by late Tuesday night.
"We're going to try to get as many done as possible, although I can't say with certainty if you get them in [Monday] we will get them in with [Tuesday's] results."
At 7 p.m. Tuesday the clerk's office can turn on the machines to count mode. All of the mail ballots previously processed and scanned will be counted. The memory cards from machines will go into the tabulation room, as will memory cards from early voting sites.
The first DuPage results to be posted online will be vote-by-mail and early voting results, Kaczmarek said.
"Because we already have them in the building it amounts to walking them into the auditorium and the tabulation room," Kaczmarek said.
Meanwhile, a team of judges – both Democratic and Republican – will drive memory cards from both paper ballots and touch screens to the county building in Wheaton after polling locations have closed.
"Hopefully we will get them in as soon as possible," Kaczmarek said. "In some cases judges are coming back from polling places in the four corners of the county."
Kaczmarek reported that each of the polling sites around the country are equipped with plenty of PPE, including hand sanitizers, masks and gloves. She hopes voters will be very patient, maintain good social distancing and wear masks.
"We don't know exactly what to expect tomorrow with turnout, but we need to be ready," Kaczmarek said. "We plan on having the polling places well staffed."
Kaczmarek said that those who have received a mail ballot but have changed their mind can vote in person Tuesday by bringing the mail packet and surrendering it at the polling location, or they can just drop their mail ballot in a drop box available at all polling locations.
If voters had requested a vote by mail ballot, but have not yet received it, they should go to a polling place, and inform the judges it has not yet arrived, and the judge will cancel out their vote by mail request so they can vote in person.
"They will be issued a provisional ballot if they don't have their mail ballot with them," Kaczmarek said. "We do intend on processing and counting all provisional ballots that have been verified."
Voters may also return voted mail ballots via drop boxes located at the south parking lot and main entrance of the Jack T. Knuepfer Administration Building, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton.
Kaczmarek urges voters to get in those ballots Tuesday.
"Your voice will not be heard if your ballot is sitting on the kitchen counter," Kaczmarek said. "Return your ballot now please."