How Write-In Ballots Could Delay Results on Election Day

As voters across Chicago cast their ballots on Election Day, relatively few problems have been reported at polling places, officials said Tuesday afternoon.

One issue that could alter the announcement of election results, according to the Chicago Board of Elections, is the amount of write-in votes they anticipate will be cast. 

"Probably our only concern tonight is judges counting write-in votes," said James Allen, communications director of the Chicago Board of Elections, adding that this was the first time he remembered so many reports of officials "of any political party talking about writing in for even the highest offices."

"Judges might have to take more time there, but hopefully that wont be the case," he said. 

Elected officials across the country have openly discussed writing in a candidate for president, with Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk saying Tuesday that he wrote in disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus after pulling his endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in June.

Those write-in votes could add time to the process of tallying ballots, officials said. 

"What happens is, as the ballot is fed into the scanner, if there’s a mark next to the name printed on the ballot then the scanner knows that’s a vote for candidate Smith or candidate Jones," Allen explained.

"But if there's a mark next to the write-in space, it just checks for the connection between the arrows, not the name," he said.

If the write-in arrow is completed, the scanner places the ballot in a different section of the ballot box to be counted individually.

"At the end of the night, the judges have to go through the different sections and tally the write-in votes, determine if the candidate is an eligible write-in candidate, and the voter's intent," Allen said.

If there are a significant number of write-in votes, counting each ballot individually could add extra time to the process before election results can be officially announced.

Contact Us