Judge orders full recount in DuPage County auditor race

A DuPage County judge has ordered a full recount of the November race for DuPage County auditor, ruling there are enough ballots in question to potentially overturn the results.

"Any in-precinct ballot that is not initialed shall be deemed defective and not counted," Judge Craig R. Belford wrote in a written ruling Wednesday.

According to the initial count, incumbent Republican Bob Grogan lost to Democratic challenger William "Bill" White by 75 votes, 233,121 to 233.046.

Grogan sought a recount, claiming in court filings that an election judge at a Downers Grove Township polling place failed to initial all ballots as required by Illinois law. In Downers Grove Township precincts 76, 118, and 130, a total of 436 uninitialed ballots were cast, 259 for White and 177 for Grogan, documents state

Grogan contends that if the uninitialed ballots are declared invalid and not counted, he would beat White by seven votes.

In his ruling, Belford wrote that the Illinois Supreme Court is clear that "statutes requiring election judges to initial ballots are mandatory" and "uninitialed ballots may not be counted."

This is true, he wrote, "even where the parties agree that there is no knowledge of fraud or corruption" and "even where election judges fail by mistake to initial any of the ballots cast in their polling place."

White, who was sworn into office in December, maintains that even if the ballots are not initialed, they are still valid and should be counted.

"What I want to make clear is the order does not pertain to any allegations of fraud," White said. "There is nothing in the court proceedings pertaining to any sort of fraud. There is a possibility of human error in failing to initial certain ballots. It's my contention all of those ballots are legitimate voters legitimately cast.

"This is only the beginning of what's going to be a long process," he added.

Grogan was not immediately available for comment, but on his Facebook page, he wrote, "I think this is a first in DuPage County: the court has ordered a full countywide recount for my race."

"We found hundreds of ballots that contained no election judges' initials, which invalidates them. Not addressed in this ruling, but we will certainly be looking into why there are +1600 more ballots than people who voted," he wrote.

White said discussions of next steps in the recount process likely will take place at a court hearing next week.

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