Election results: Counting ballots continues, even in Illinois

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Waiting for election results isn't just in other states, ballots are still being counted right now in Illinois, including Lake County.

"The election in Illinois is not officially over, the count, until two weeks after the election. People need to understand that," said Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor.

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If ballots are postmarked through Election Day, Illinois clerks must count them through two weeks, which is November 17. But some voters are asking why it's taking so long, especially with the presidential race hanging in the balance.

"Election systems have never been set up for millions and millions and millions of mail-in ballots," said Laura Washington, ABC 7 Chicago's Political Analyst. "It takes a lot longer to process all those ballots."

For example, counting ballots is a four-step process in Lake County.

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First, a ballot is beeped into the system, allowing voters to track their ballot. After that, an election judge must verify the signature, comparing it just like in-person ballots are checked. The ballot is then opened and initialed by an election judge. Finally, the ballot is ready to be counted in the machine.

This year, in Lake County and across the nation, historic turnout is expected.

"It's very quick, but we've never had this amount of ballots returned, and it requires election judges," said Todd Govain, Lake County Chief Deputy Clerk.

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Lake County also includes the 14th congressional district. Although Republican challenger Jim Oberweis has declared victory, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood wants every vote counted.

Nationally, it is coming down to six states who are still counting to determine the outcome of the presidential election. The margin is razor-thin in Georgia.

"Georgia is neck-and-neck, and I don't think we're going to hear anything definitive about that in a while," Washington said. "There's going to be a recount in Georgia because it's so close."

RELATED: How recounts happen in battleground states

So as the counting continues, the Lake County's clerk has this message for all of us.

"Be patient, be mindful," O'Connor said, "and know that the Lake County Clerk and many clerks in the state of Illinois are working really hard."
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