Razor-thin winning margins in some Evanston races, there’s a chance those outcomes could be flipped by the more than 3,000 mail-in ballots that haven’t yet been returned to the County Clerk’s office.

Depending on how many of those ballots are actually returned, it could impact races for alderman in the 1st and 8th Wards, and for a seat on the Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education. In each of those races, the current margin between the winning and losing candidate is 46 votes or less.

Ballots postmarked on Election Day are still counted if they arrive at the County Clerk’s Office within two weeks, so the results are potentially subject to change.

The County Clerk’s Office tells Evanston Now that Evanston voters requested 6,332 mail-in ballots, and as of Election Day had returned 3,218 which were included in the election night totals. That leaves 3,114 ballots which could still, in theory, end up being counted.

But there are several caveats. First, there’s no telling how many of the unreturned mail ballots will actually come back. Second, in the city council races, even though there are more than 3,000 ballots outsanding, they’re divided among nine wards. So each ward’s maximum is likely only a few hundred.

The school board race is different, as all of those votes are districtwide — across 58 precincts.

Late-arriving ballots have rarely changed the outcome of a contest in Evanston. For example, four years ago, in the 8th Ward, an election night spread of 15 votes between the two candidates only shrank to 13 votes after all mail-in ballots were tallied.

But for the next two weeks, six candidates will be sweating it out to see whether votes already cast but not yet counted will change the outcome.

Those candidates, and the margins as of now are:

  • 1st Ward: Clare Kelly over Judy Fiske (incumbent) by 39 votes.
  • 8th Ward: Devon Reid over Matthew Mitchell by 46 votes.
  • District 65 Board seat: Donna Wang Su over Marquise Weatherspoon by 46 votes.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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