The discovery recount for the auditor’s race concluded on Wednesday. I appreciate the efforts of the County Clerk’s staff to perform the required retabulations. Illinois recount law was created to allow a mechanism that reinforces our faith in the democratic process. It sets an election performance threshold to permit only petitioners with close races to invoke it. In a two-person race, one would need to be within 2.56% of the presumed winner. With a spread of 0.04%, the auditor’s race was 64 times closer than this requirement and thus warranted further investigation.
The relevant statute governing this process is insufficient to ensure–and in some ways even impedes–true discovery. Illinois recount discovery–at least as interpreted by the county clerk–requires two prerequisites: the re-sorting of all early votes and mail-in ballots to their home precincts and their retabulation by the same kind of machines that performed the initial tabulation. Retabulation is limited to uncovering inconsistencies between machines. Indeed, as indicated on the Clerk’s online summary, there were some. However, the real question is to what extent the optical scanners would give a result that differs from that of a visual inspection, i.e., a hand count. Unfortunately, the law treats a second tabulation as standard but refers to a hand count as “redundant”, even though the latter is the only way to verify that scanners have accurately recorded the intentions of voters. Illinois law also requires the petitioning candidate to pay any “additional costs” associated with a hand count. The County Clerk could not provide an estimate of the staff time my campaign would then be compelled to pay.
I eschewed a hand count of my chosen sample precincts, but with the help of dedicated volunteers, I obtained enough information to infer approximately what one would unveil. I do not think that a full manual recount would reverse the official election result and therefore I do not seek to contest this election in the courts.
A huge “Thank you” to everyone who helped me on this campaign—both before and after November 8th! It was a great honor to elicit your support and I hope that my oh-so-close campaign is nonetheless rewarding for you, as it was for me.
Happy New Year!