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Craving results, town gets frustration
Election 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006
Chicago Tribune
by Susan Kuczka

Frustrated at not knowing the results of Glencoe's Park District referendum two days after voters went to the polls, the district's executive director hopped on a train to Chicago on Thursday to find out why the results weren't in.

The nearly 25-mile trip to the Cook County clerk's office didn't get him many answers.

"It's just chaotic here," Rod Aiken said. "I came down here and I still didn't find out anything. There just doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency."

The workers in the clerk's office took their lunch break just as Aiken arrived, frustrating him more.

About two dozen other people waiting for results from suburbs scattered across the region were in the same boat. Ballot counting isn't expected to be done until this weekend.

The Glencoe Park District Board asked voters Tuesday to give it authority to borrow up to $14 million to renovate the village's Community Center, which would include constructing a 14,000-square-foot gymnasium and space for early-childhood programs.

Residents formed a group called Friends for a Better Center to campaign for the measure, which would cost the owner of a $1 million home in the North Shore community about $487 more per year in property taxes.

Cook County election officials had warned voters before the election that tabulation could take longer than normal because of the implementation of a new dual voting system that would be unfamiliar to both voters and election workers.

In addition, the clerk's office said ballots cast during the state's new early-voting period would have to be counted at the clerk's office in Chicago after polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Aiken had no idea, however, that by 5:30 p.m. Thursday the clerk's office still couldn't tell him whether all the Glencoe ballots had made it to the clerk's office for tabulation.

"If I could find out that the ballots had arrived, at least I'd get some satisfaction," he said.

At least some of the Glencoe ballots arrived, according to incomplete results reported by the clerk's office Thursday. With 8 of 11 precincts reporting, the clerk's office said the tax increase was headed toward passage, winning 945 of 1,543 votes tallied.

But Aiken and other supporters said they won't begin celebrating until all the ballots have been counted.

"It's totally unbelievable," said Sally Conley, co-chairwoman of Friends for a Better Center. "I saw someone today who said, `I feel like I want to go party,' but we can't. We just have to wait."

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