Saline County Clerk Kim Buchanan was proud of the voter turnout in Tuesday’s Consolidated Election.
She anticipated 25 percent and the turnout was 26.63 percent. For Buchanan it was a day that began before dawn with an issue not so uncommon for Mountain Township voters: A snake was believed to be in the township hall and polling place — the building that formerly was the Somerset school.
Election judge Lisa Wallace said someone had been in the township hall the night before to accommodate plumber Dwight Howton who was doing some work and one spotted a dark 3-foot long snake.
“It was underneath the sink, stretched out,” Wallace said.
Tuesday morning when the election judges opened up mice went scattering about as though nervous about a snake in the building, but the snake had either left the building or — more likely — was in hiding.
“We watched for the snake all day,” Wallace said.
Election judge Susie Wilson said it was a lucky think for the building’s structural integrity no one did see the snake.
“You would have had a new door,” Wilson said.
Sticky traps were procured to address the pest problem.
Another, more serious, issue arose at Harrisburg High School which was being used as a polling place. School was in session and voting was happening in the gym.
A student was reading the morning announcements and added at the end an encouragement to vote yes on the referendum for a new Harrisburg High School and to vote yes for Jose Durbin — an HHS student who was a candidate for the Harrisburg District Library Board.
Buchanan had just left the school while making her rounds of the polling places when she got the call from one of the election judges the announcement had been made.
“Several (judges) heard it and several voters heard it,” Buchanan said.
“There is no mistaking it, that’s electioneering.”
The Deputy Saline County Clerk went to the school office and notified the school secretary the announcement “was in direct violation of law,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan called state election officials in Springfield to get guidance.
“I did call Springfield on that because you can’t unring the bell,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said if the ballot referendum had passed or Durbin had been elected, someone opposed to those results could presumably have contested the results. But in the end the referendum failed and Durbin lost to opponents Sally Wofford and Janet Jones.
Buchanan said she was prepared to follow through with any electioneering complaint.
“I will do everything in my power to uphold the law and hold a fair and honest election,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Buchanan said there were several local election issues throughout the county, as is to be expected with more than 150 elections and 50 ballot styles.
The election totals will be made official after the canvassing process by 4 p.m. April 23.