Spread narrows from 812 to 358, but final results won’t be known until Nov. 17 as mail-in ballots trickle in

The number of votes separating Republican incumbent state Rep. John Cabello and Democratic challenger Dave Vella shrank from 812 Tuesday night to 358 Wednesday after the city updated its unofficial election results.

Vella said he’s willing to wait until Nov. 17 to learn the winner of the race to be the Illinois state representative in the 68th District for the next two years.

Vella’s comments came the day after the election, after Winnebago County Clerk Lori Gummow announced that she would not update the county’s election results based on mail-in ballots until Nov. 17, the date by which she must certify the results.

The city added 2,966 votes on Wednesday, 1,284 of them in the 68th District.

With 50,778 votes tallied — some from the county’s election office and some from the city’s — Cabello led with 50.35% of the vote to Vella’s 49.65%, according to unofficial election results.

Yet to be seen is how many ballots will arrive at election offices in the coming days to be added to existing tallies.

This year saw record numbers of requests for vote-by-mail ballots in both the city and county. Of the nearly 45,000 ballots that were mailed to voters, election officials say about 8,000 of them remain unaccounted for. They could be in the mail, or they could go unused.

"I’m going to stay in this until every vote is counted, and we find out which of us won," said Vella, a Rockford resident.

"I know they haven’t counted all of the votes yet and that votes are still eligible to be counted as long as they are postmarked the day of the election. … I want the votes to be counted. If that’s how long it takes, then that’s how long it takes."

Election officials were unable to say how many unreturned ballots were mailed to voters who live in the 68th District. The city has about 3,700 ballots that could still come back and the county has about 4,300.

The city’s election office plans to update its election results periodically in the coming days before it, too, certifies its election results.

Cabello, of Machesney Park, did not respond to a call seeking comment Tuesday night.

He posted the following on his Facebook page Wednesday morning:

"What a night! Thank you to everyone who voted. We are cautiously optimistic that we will prevail after the mail in ballots are in. …

"I am humbled by your support. The corrupt gang tried to buy this district. Looks like they didn’t succeed."

Vella, 49, is a lawyer. Cabello, 49, is a police detective.

The district includes sections of northwest and east Rockford, Loves Park, Machesney Park and Cherry Valley.

In a preelection questionnaire, Cabello’s stressed a need to restore "fundamental principles government that is supposed to defend our rights as citizens which includes ’life and property.’

"My real concern is that the Democrat policies in this state that are put forward as a means toward the ’common good’ are in fact dangerous and irresponsible. … We can also root out the corruption. Speaker Mike Madigan and Gov. Pritzker are being investigated for wrongdoing. They have been funding my opponent with hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Vella is the grandson of longtime Rockford-area legislator Zeke Giorgi.

"My grandpa Zeke Giorgi told me something when I was young that really stuck with me. He said: ’Everyone is the same. We all want our families and our neighbors to have a good life. We just have different ideas on how to get there. If you keep that in mind, you can work with anyone," Vella responded to the questionnaire.

"I want to emulate this approach in my public service. Being a representative is more than complaining and casting blame. It’s about building a better community through your actions and setting an example for everyone to follow."

Corina Curry:; @corinacurry

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November 5, 2020 at 02:46PM