McHenry County clerk apologizes for election issues

McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan Thursday promised to improve communication between her office and election judges, following a software glitch and delayed vote counting in Tuesday's election.

A news release from McClellan's office said one of the "biggest issues" on Election Day was communication, after her office received a "staggering" number of phone calls.

"It is my biggest concern that the voter have the right to vote and I will do whatever it takes to make this process better," McClellan said in the news release. "I apologize to any voter or official who was unable to immediately communicate with me or a member or my staff."

McClellan said in the future, she will have a person tasked as the communication officer who will be in charge of fielding calls.

On Election Day, some 40 specialists from the clerk's office were dispatched to precincts to resolve issues.

The problems started when electronic poll books, which allow election officials to review voter data, weren't working in 12 polling places. McClellan asked a judge to enter an order to extend voting hours 90 minutes countywide, so "every voter who wished had the opportunity to vote," she said.

But some election judges were unaware of that decision. Election results didn't start rolling in until hours after polls closed, and vote tallying continued well past midnight.

On Wednesday, McHenry County Republican Party Chairwoman Sandra Salgado said the confusion called into question "the integrity of the process."

McClellan responded to that charge Thursday, saying the electronic poll books didn't affect the counting of votes, since the software is only used for the registration process.

"While simple software glitches caused a delay, the integrity of the voting process was never jeopardized, and this was and will remain my highest priority. I would welcome any review of my processes or the events of Election Day by the State Board of Election," McClellan said.

Tuesday's election resulted in record voter turnout for a primary in McHenry County - 42.73 percent - with 87,672 votes cast, the clerk's office said.

•Daily Herald staff writer Lauren Rohr contributed to this report.

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