Recount after 75-vote difference doesn't stop DuPage auditor's office from changing hands

A new DuPage County auditor took office Tuesday for the first time in 12 years, but his election opponent says the historically close race isn't over yet.

Downers Grove Democrat William "Bill" White assumed the role as the county's top financial watchdog even as his predecessor, Bob Grogan, prepares for "double overtime" in one of the tightest contests in the suburbs.

Grogan has asked for a partial recount of the election results after coming up just 75 votes shy of victory out of more than 466,000 ballots cast.

Grogan, a Downers Grove Republican who held the position for three terms, filed for a discovery recount in up to 25% of the precincts countywide.

Wheaton Republican Tim Whelan also has requested a partial recount after falling short in his reelection bid for a seat on the forest preserve district board. Official results from last month's election show Democratic challenger Jeff Gahris defeating Whelan by 718 votes.

The recount proceedings are set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7, in the county administration building in Wheaton. Both Grogan and Whelan are represented by attorney Phillip Luetkehans.

The exploratory process leaves some uncertainty over races that add to historic gains for Democrats in DuPage.

In a partial recount, the county clerk's office will make election materials available for scrutiny to help candidates determine if there are enough voter discrepancies to seek a court order for a complete recount.

Pat Bond, the attorney for the county clerk's office, said county election officials have had roughly 30 discovery recounts over the past 20 years, but none resulted in a full recount.

Election authorities anticipate the partial recounts could be done by Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the earliest, Bond said.

Grogan already has put out an appeal for donations if he should decide to forge ahead with a legal challenge.

"I have confidence that assuming that we find a critical mass of differences that we'll be able to fund the full recount if we can get there past the judge," Grogan said.

He's cautiously hopeful as he prepares for an examination of ballots next week.

"Auditors know what to look for, but they don't know what the results are of what they look for until they've done it," Grogan said Tuesday. "So I'm objective. I have an open mind. I am hopeful, but honestly, mistakes go both directions."

White began the job Tuesday with a "highly qualified, motivated, professional" staff. The attorney said he's confident the election totals announced will be upheld, but he fully respects Grogan's decision to work through the evidence-gathering process given the narrow margin separating the candidates.

"He has every right to ask for that under the law," White said.

On election night, Grogan held the advantage. But White gained ground as the county clerk's office continued tabulating mail-in ballots. White ended up with 233,121 votes to Grogan's 233,046.

Grogan said he requested a partial recount after talking to election experts around the state and due to "unprecedented circumstances" under which people voted in the pandemic.

"I'm grateful for the honor of having served 12 years and whether it ends up being four more, we'll sort of see at the end of this double overtime," Grogan said.

In other countywide offices, Democrat Candice Adams began her tenure Tuesday as circuit court clerk after ousting four-term GOP incumbent Chris Kachiroubas. Democrat Kathleen Carrier also started her term as county recorder.

'Statistical dead heat': DuPage auditor race could head to a recount

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