Democratic candidate says faulty voting machines cost him DuPage nomination

Moon Khan is facing another setback in his bid to become the Democratic nominee for DuPage County recorder in the November election.

This time the Lombard resident and former Republican is blaming the county's voting machines.

Khan's campaign for his party's nomination first ran into trouble late last year when he withdrew from the primary race after the validity of his nominating petitions was challenged.

He launched a write-in campaign a short time later seeking to win his party's nod to face Republican Recorder Fred Bucholz in the November general election. No Democratic candidate was on the printed ballot.

To secure the nomination, Khan needed 844 write-in votes in the March 15 primary, election officials said. He ended up with just 695, according to unofficial results, even though more than 4,000 Democrats voted for the recorder's position.

Now Khan is claiming "a suspected software malfunction" prevented him from receiving up to 3,336 additional write-in votes.

"The touch-screen voting machines did not save the name written on the screen," Khan said. "It was an overwhelming error."

Khan is calling on the DuPage County Election Commission to investigate and determine what happened.

Robert Saar, the commission's executive director, said it's "very unusual" to have thousands of votes in a race go to no candidate.

But he dismissed Khan's claim that there was a problem with the voting machines.

"There's absolutely no possibility of that," Saar said. "It is not a software malfunction."

To vote for a write-in candidate, voters must take two steps: darken an oval on the ballot and then write in the name of the candidate.

After the polls close, bipartisan election judges inspect the ballots to tally how many write-in votes each candidate received.

Saar said all election judges were instructed that a candidate's name doesn't need to be spelled correctly for a write-in vote to count.

"If they can decipher the intent of that voter, they're supposed to give every consideration to the voter intending to vote for a candidate," he said.

So what happened with in this case?

"I don't know," Saar said. "Is it that a massive number of polling places were too strict (when checking names)? Were the ovals darkened in and nothing else?"

Despite Khan's call for an investigation, Saar said the commission doesn't have the authority to launch such a probe.

"I can't go to the warehouse and start opening lockers and pulling ballots out," Saar said. "That authority isn't given to me by statute."

In the meantime, Khan said he's been talking with a lawyer to decide his next move.

"I'm not going to sit idle," Khan said. "I'm fighting for the rights of thousands of voters who were deprived of their voting rights."

The Democratic organization can pick a recorder candidate to run in the general election. That candidate still would need to gather enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot.

But before that happens, Democratic leaders want to make sure Khan didn't get the votes needed to secure the nomination.

"We need to wait and see what happens here," said Bob Peickert, the DuPage Democratic Party chairman. "I think Moon is certainly entitled to look at those ballots that were discounted."

In the meantime, Khan said he's focused on what happened during the primary.

"I am not thinking about anything beyond this process," he said. "This is not my fight. This is a fight for more than 3,200 voters."

Khan, who served as a York Township trustee from 2005 to 2012, first ran as a Democrat in 2014 after leaving the Republican Party. But his bid that year for a District 4 seat on the DuPage County Board ended when he lost the Democratic primary.

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