Local mayoral race still too close to call


Reporter - Kendall Downing

HERRIN, Ill. - It's been three days since the election for mayor in Herrin, Illinois and just three votes put incumbent Vic Ritter ahead of his challenger, City Councilman Steve Frattini.

But the results are far from official.

That's because the absentee ballots for the race haven't been counted. Illinois law requires that they be opened and processed two weeks after Election Day.

But this is where it gets tricky. There are six absentee ballots out that pertain to the mayoral election. Three of those six haven't arrived back at the Williamson County Clerk's office yet. They must be postmarked by April 8th to be counted and included in the results. 

And the other three ballots, they were rejected by election judges because of signature discrepancies. The Williamson County Clerk sent those voters a letter, saying they will have to prove their vote is authentic and should be counted.

That means the results of the race could go either way.

It might look like a typical Friday in Herrin.

"It's kind of a big buzz around here," said resident Cathy Fike.

But take a gander at the paper, and you'll see the mayor's race is the big news. That's true for Fike.

"This is the closest I've ever seen an election in Herrin," she said.

And it's also true for Steve Frattini, the man vying for Mayor Vic Ritter's seat.

"I'm still very optimistic," said Frattini, "I think there's been a message that's gone forward."

Frattini said he thought it'd be a tight race but not too close to call.

The current councilmember ran for the city's top job on a platform of increasing public safety and the city's curb appeal, something he said has gone by the wayside.

"We have more drug trafficking in our communities than anyone would like to admit to," he said.

Mayor Vic Ritter told Local 6 by phone Friday he wouldn't speculate on why the election is so close. He also declined our request for an on-camera interview.

Williamson County Clerk Amanda Barnes said this isn't the first tight race, and it won't be the last. She calls it another sign that every vote counts.

"There have been some close like this before," she said, "You never know."

The Williamson County Clerk will certify the election on April 23rd. If either candidate would like a recount, they must file after that date.

There are quite a few stipulations to the recount process.

Candidates must request in five days time after the election is certified. Only votes in one-quarter of the precincts can be recounted, that's four precincts with respect to the Herrin race.

A recount costs the candidate $10 per precinct.

Barnes said if either candidate finds what they believe to be irregularities in the vote, they can take that claim to court.