Our opinion: Regardless of how DuPage auditor recount had gone, it demonstrates the strength of our election system

  • After completion of a recount of votes, a DuPage County judge declared Monday that Bill White, right, won the county auditor election in 2020 over Bob Grogan, left.

    After completion of a recount of votes, a DuPage County judge declared Monday that Bill White, right, won the county auditor election in 2020 over Bob Grogan, left.

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted3/23/2022 1:00 AM
This editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Daily Herald Editorial Board.

It took 16 months -- driving hard toward a year and half -- to determine an undisputed winner in the November 2020 race for county auditor of Du­Page County.

On its face, such a delay might seem a source of dismay in an era of attempts to foment distrust of our institutions. But to the contrary, the time lapse also can provide cause for the opposite -- a reaffirmation of faith in elections, the foundation on which our democracy is built.

 

And the case behind the delay also demonstrates both the sanctity with which we regard the vote and the significance of every last one.

It all begins with the mere 75 votes -- out of more than 466,000 ballots cast -- that originally determined Democratic challenger Bill White's victory over incumbent Republican Bob Grogan. On the basis of such a slim margin, it is easy to understand why Grogan chose to undertake the expense of a partial recount, which found enough questions to justify a full formal review.

At that point, regardless of which way the outcome turned, the underlying strength of the system was established. Officials recognized the potential for a result that may not reflect the desires of a majority of voters, and a system was in place to drill deeper in order to more confidently ascertain those desires.

As it turned out, the original end result held. Some votes were disqualified and some were confirmed for both candidates until, following an exhaustive review, DuPage County Judge Craig Belford determined Monday that "there simply remains no way for Grogan to prevail."

Over the course of three terms as auditor, Grogan built a national reputation with an emphasis on accuracy, innovation and transparency, and to his credit, he emphasized after Belford's ruling that his persistence in pursuing the recount "was not for sour grapes." Understandably, he and his supporters may harbor frustrations, and, in a social media posting following the court's decision, he raises some reasonable concerns about whether such a close race shouldn't trigger an automatic recount in Illinois.

Still, it is particularly encouraging that not only does no one offer complaints that fraud played a role in the results of this vote nor that the election was conducted improperly. In the end, the issue came down simply to whether every properly cast vote was counted.

When you're talking about fewer than 75 votes -- at one point in the recounting even fewer than 58 votes -- out of nearly half a million, that is a remarkably specific expectation. Whether it is in DuPage County or anywhere else in the suburbs, this process provides a show of confidence that all voters can appreciate and respect.

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