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County Clerk Defends Handling of Votes for Winkel

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten says his handling of Rick Winkel's late withdrawal from the circuit clerk's race was correct, even though state Elections officials had suggested a different approach.

Winkel defeated Stephanie Holderfield to win Tuesday's Republican primary for Champaign County Circuit Clerk --- even though he had dropped out of the race in early February. The withdrawal came too late to change the ballots, and some ballots had already been sent out to early, overseas voters.

The Illinois State Board of Elections recommends that in such cases, that local election officials simply should simply ignore any votes cast for the candidate who withdrew. That recommendation is binding in the case of state races, but only advisory on local elections. Hulten said refusing to count votes for Winkel would have been unfair to the voters.

"I am very confident that it is the legally correct position," Hulten said. "And I am even more confident that it is the right decision to make. Voters have voted. It is not our job to act an omniscient election authority, and wave a magic wand, and pretend those votes don't exist."

Winkel said he will formally withdraw as a candidate after the ballots are certified --- leaving selection of a new nominee up to the local Republican leadership. They may choose Holderfield for the post, or someone else. Holderfield said in a statement, that given the Elections Board's differing advice, she may appeal Hulten's decision.

Categories: Government, Politics