GENEVA – Republican election judge Pat Winter pulled a mail-in paper ballot from the top of a two-foot-high stack, opened it, and put it on the pile.
Democratic election judge John Matko of Sugar Grove did the same.
And so did Republican election judges Tina Baratono of Geneva and Karol Krogh of Elgin and Democratic election judges Tina Soto of St. Charles, Paula Weisserth of Blackberry Township and Mary Hanson of Aurora.
The Nov. 6 election may be over, but its votes are still being counted at the Kane County Clerk’s Office in Geneva. Election judges have processed more than 13,000 mail-in ballots – with more coming in every day, said Supervisor of Elections Raymond Esquivel.
“We started Sept. 23,” Esquivel said. “And every day from then on to right now, we have been processing vote-by-mail ballots. … We have 14 days from the election [until] Nov. 20, to count vote-by-mail ballots. ... “This even beats the presidential for vote-by-mail. Every day we’ve been getting more.”
The judges are paired in teams of two, one Democrat and one Republican, though on this particular Friday, a Democrat was missing.
“Some elections, it only takes one team,” Esquivel said.
Winter gestured to the tall stack of unopened mail-in ballots nestled inside a plastic USPS mail tote box.
“This is what came today,” Winter said.
The clerk sent out 17,000 mail-in-ballots. Esquivel said about 2,500 are still outstanding.
Once the judges process a day’s worth of ballots, Esquivel updates the new election totals on the clerk’s website that evening.
The high number of mail-in ballots is the result of J.B. Pritzker’s Democratic strategy this election cycle, Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham said.
“It’s J.B.’s mail-in program, Cunningham said. “J.B.’s campaign actually puts the blue waves up on the tsunami.”
The mail-in ballots this election cycle has beat every record the clerk’s office ever had, Esquivel said.
“In 2014, we only issued 6,000 mail-in ballots. In the presidential, we only issued 9,500. This even beat the presidential,” Esquivel said.