Late night update to vote totals shakes up Lake County races

A ballot count update late Saturday by the Lake County clerk's office has shaken up two key county races and, if the gains hold, could further increase Democratic control of county leadership.

The changes include Republican incumbent State's Attorney Mike Nerheim falling behind Democratic challenger Eric Rinehart. Nerheim held a 4,832-vote lead when the clerk posted results Wednesday, but now Rinehart is ahead with 135,238 votes to the incumbent's 134,209, according to the clerk's website.

Clerk Robin O'Connor could not be reached Sunday to say how many votes were added to the results late Saturday night, what type of ballots were counted or how many outstanding ballots remain.

The other race to flip after the update is the contest to represent District 12 on the Lake County Board. After Wednesday, Republican incumbent Mike Rummel of Lake Forest led Democrat Paras Parekh by 239 votes, but the update put the challenger ahead with 8,679 votes to Rummel's 8,223 votes.

The Saturday night update didn't change the leader in any other county race, but it did push Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood ahead of Republican challenger Jim Oberweis in the race for the 14th Congressional District seat.

Before Saturday night, several Lake County candidates expressed frustration with the lack of regular updates from the clerk's office. O'Connor initially said she wouldn't provide an update until Tuesday, Nov. 10, and then on Nov. 17, when the results need to be certified.

"It's like election purgatory is what we're in right now," said Carissa Casbon, who is running for the District 7 seat on the county board.

Casbon said that while she is grateful for the continued efforts of election judges and officials, she wishes results were released more frequently. A Democrat from Warren Township, Casbon leads Republican incumbent Steve Carlson by a margin of 7,294 votes to 6,962 votes.

Gurnee Republican Lauren Fleming, who trails incumbent Democrat Sandy Hart of Lake Bluff for the 13th District county board seat, criticized O'Connor's office Friday in an open letter in which she wrote that she observed ballots left overnight Thursday in a room that was secured.

O'Connor refuted those claims, saying the storage area is secure and officials recently changed the locks on some doors as an extra precaution.

In other county board races, incumbent Republican Linda Pedersen of Antioch leads challenger Chase Andrew Thomas in District 1, with 9,371 votes to 4,412.

District 16 incumbent Democrat Terry Wilke of Round Lake Beach now has 4,901 votes to 3,675 votes for challenger John C. Frazier.

Democrat Marah Altenberg of Buffalo Grove, appointed in March to fill a vacancy, is leading with 7,430 votes to challenger Soojae Lee's 5,495 in the race to fill an unexpired 2-year term in District 20.

Democrat Gina M. Roberts leads Republican Brent Paxton of Zion by a margin of 6,776 votes to 6,156 votes in District 4.

If Paxton, Rummel and Carlson lose, Democrats would hold a 15-6 majority on the county board.

The Democratic grip on countywide offices also would tighten if incumbent Republican Coroner Howard Cooper loses to Democrat Jennifer Banek. Banek's lead, which was around 1,000 votes after Wednesday, grew Saturday and she now has 137,712 votes to 130,758 for Cooper.

Democratic Circuit Clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein and Democratic Recorder Mary Ellen Vanderventer continue to lead in their respective races. Cartwright now has 146,659 votes to 121,952 for challenger Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, and Vanderventer's 155,232 votes lead Emilia Czyszczon's 112,087.