PEORIA — It's not yet clear whether Peoria County voters want the office of auditor to be appointed.
After see-sawing back and forth all night in the election returns, results Tuesday night showed voters defeating a proposal to do so 11,023 by 11,009, a margin of 14 votes.
However, at least "a couple hundred" absentee, vote-by-mail ballots are still outstanding and could be returned within the next two weeks, county Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride said.
So long as they were postmarked by Tuesday, they'll be counted and could change the balance in the race. There are also 10 provisional ballots that may be counted, if they're deemed to be eligible, Bride said.
The next updated count will come on Friday, Bride said, with a vote being finalized at least two weeks from election night.
County Board members discussed the proposal to change the elected office to an appointed one repeatedly throughout the last year, reaching an informal consensus by the second half of 2017 to put it onto the ballot. They formally voted to do so in December.
At issue were the objectives of ensuring officeholders held financial qualifications and that the post would have politics removed from it. The appointed post was designed to have a five-year term so that the officeholder would have the position for longer than any individual board member's term.
Opponents, though, suggested that taking away the elected nature of the post removed accountability to the electorate.
This is the third election in a row where voters in the Peoria area have had a near-tie result that has had to be determined by outstanding ballots. A Peoria City Council at-large primary and the City Council District 5 seat were both decided that way last year.