DuPage County Board rejects bid to help fund auditor's recount

  • Bob Grogan and William "Bill" White, right, were candidates for DuPage County auditor in the 2020 election. White was sworn into the position after the historically close race.

    Bob Grogan and William "Bill" White, right, were candidates for DuPage County auditor in the 2020 election. White was sworn into the position after the historically close race.

 
 
Updated 8/10/2021 7:30 PM

The DuPage County Board on Tuesday rejected a proposal by Republican members to help fund a historic court-ordered recount sought by former Auditor Bob Grogan, the GOP incumbent who fell short of reelection by a razor-thin margin last November.

The resolution would have allowed the county to pay $56,307, or half the eligible costs of conducting a full recount of the more than 466,000 ballots cast in the countywide auditor's race.

 

The measure divided the county board largely along party lines, and it came a day after a judge slashed the estimated bill for the recount.

County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek wanted Grogan to pay nearly $290,000 up front as security for a recount.

State law allows a judge to order a candidate who requests a recount to provide a bond or cash deposit to cover some or all of the costs. If the candidate prevails after the recount, the money is returned.

But DuPage Judge Craig Belford on Monday denied some of the expenses requested by the county clerk, cutting the amount down to $112,614. Belford also decided Grogan should only have to post half -- $56,307 -- in advance.

The board resolution was originally signed by all seven Republican members and sought to have the county transfer $300,000 from its general fund into the clerk's budget for any costs incurred by the recount. After the judge's order, GOP members then tried to amend the proposal to fund $56,307.

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"Other counties have recently taken positions and paid for recounts," said Jim Zay, a Republican who supported the resolution. "Macon County did so and overturned the sheriff's race."

But member Greg Hart, one of the seven to sign on to the resolution, pulled his support on Tuesday.

While Hart said Grogan has every right to pursue his challenge in court, "the burden of proof is always on the petitioner."

Democrat Julie Renehan agreed.

"Even if we change the amount to $1, I couldn't support it because the (state) legislature has already spoken on this topic," Renehan said. "There is a law. The onus is on the petitioner to pay for a recount, and there is a mechanism for reimbursement. If he were to win, there would be a mechanism for reimbursement."

The recount would be the first in recent memory to scrutinize ballots in a countywide election in DuPage.

In the auditor's race, Grogan, the county's top financial watchdog for three terms, finished just 75 votes shy of victory. Democrat William White ended up with 233,121 votes to Grogan's 233,046.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In a partial recount completed in December, when 25% of the precincts were recounted, Grogan discovered that on Election Day, election judges at a Downers Grove polling place did not initial 436 ballots. Grogan argues that made those ballots invalid, and if thrown out, he would have won by seven votes. Belford agreed in a ruling in May, and said Grogan presented enough evidence to merit a full recount.

"In other words, as we sit here today, this election is effectively a tie, and there is every reason to believe that the recount has an equal chance of going either way," Belford wrote in his order Monday.

Grogan has until Aug. 27 to deposit the $56,307 with the clerk's office. He's now fundraising to secure the money and "cautiously optimistic" he can meet the deadline.

"For the record, I have never declared victory," Grogan told the Daily Herald. "I'm an auditor. One of the things I know is until you look at everything, you don't know what the results are. That's what auditors do. "

• Daily Herald staff writer Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this report

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