Election night in Kane County relied on coordination, planning, security

Vote-counting started with mouse-click on start button

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GENEVA – Election night 2020 had more than 230,000 people voting – more than a 73% turnout rate with mail-in ballots, early voting and 48,075 people voting in person on the day-of – and it all came down to the click of a mouse at 7 p.m. in the tally room at the Kane County Clerk’s Office.

Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham called to Director of Elections Raymond Esquivel to do the honors as staff, reporters and photographers watched.

“He did all the work, so he’s going to press the button,” Cunningham said.

At that point, the clerk’s staff had already put in 16 hours at work –starting at 3 a.m. – and planned to go at least to midnight Wednesday.

“When I hit start, all those votes are going be counted,” Esquivel said.

The first votes to be tallied on election night are the early votes, mail-in ballots and dropped off ballots.

Then the early voting, mobile ballot box – the dropped off ballots – and day-of ballots are counted.

Starting about 7:30 p.m., election judges from the 291 polling places start winding their way to one of three rally points, one of them in the back warehouse at the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s office in St. Charles.

Police direct traffic to the warehouse entrance on the north side of the where election judges bring cases that contain the votes. The cases are zip-tied for security, with additional staff cutting the zip-ties and setting up something of an assembly line to transfer votes from discs into the clerk’s voting system.

The votes are collected electronically, each one fed into a reader that transmits the votes into the system.

Cunningham bought a machine last year that opens, sorts and validates incoming mailed ballots at the rate of 600 a minute to make it easier to get the votes counted in an election that has generated a lot of interest.

Urging early voting and vote-by-mail makes election day go more smoothly and quickly, Cunningham said.The numbers are still stunning for Cunningham: 181,950 ballots returned as of Thursday with 10,248 of mail-in ballots still out.

The turnout was 73.4% – record-breaking, Cunningham said.

The clerk's office has until Nov. 17 to receive the outstanding mail-in ballots. The website election results are updated continuously as the mail-in ballots are tallied, Cunningham said.

"The voter turnout was amazing," Cunnigham said.