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Orr: One Vote Really Does Matter In Many Local Elections

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Voters cast their ballots in suburban Chicago. (credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

Voters cast their ballots in suburban Chicago. (credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you think your one vote doesn’t matter, just take a look at some of this week’s election results.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports several of races from Tuesday remain undecided, with three or fewer votes separating candidates in a handful of them.

“Every vote counts, absolutely,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr, whose office oversees election proceedings in the suburbs. “You’ve got a race in Lincolnwood village trustee that is a one-vote difference. You’ve got another village trustee in Park Forest that is a one-vote difference. You’ve got a Ward 1 alderman in Countryside, there’s a two-vote difference. A Chicago Ridge for village trustee is three votes apart. And Hodgkins village trustee has one three votes apart.”

Also, in Stickney, the race for village president had a four-vote margin as of Thursday, according to Orr.

In such close races, official results take longer to confirm, because officials must wait for absentee ballots and provisional ballots that could easily swing the results one way or another.

Orr said the lesson of such close races is that every vote really does count.

“You can imagine how these people are feeling right now, when they talk to their friends or if their friends admit, ‘Oh, I really was going to vote, but I didn’t,’” Orr said. “Of course, they’re probably not going to admit that to one of the candidates now, but it just does show again that an enlightened and aggressive citizenry can make a big difference.”

Ties are not unheard of in local elections, either.

“Just in the last few years. We had a couple ties in the last year where we simply flip a coin,” Orr said. When an election is tied in Illinois, a coin flip is what legally decides the contest.

Orr said in extremely close contests, court fights for recounts have become increasingly rare, because more sophisticated balloting methods have made vote counting so accurate the results are unlikely to change.

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