DuPage auditor race recount uncovers sealed vote-by-mail ballots, candidate says
A recount of the 2020 DuPage County auditor race has found instances where vote-by-mail ballots were left in sealed envelopes and may not have been counted, according to one of the candidates.
The recount of the November election -- which former Auditor Bob Grogan lost by just 75 votes to William "Bill" White -- started on Monday and ended on Wednesday.
DuPage Judge Craig Belford ordered the recount after a partial examination of ballots in December found that election judges at a Downers Grove polling place did not initial 436 ballots on Election Day. In his ruling, Belford said state law requires paper ballots to be initialed in ink.
During this week's recount, election judges examined ballots to see if they were initialed. As Grogan expected, initials were missing from several hundred ballots.
But Grogan says he was astounded by what was found by election judges who were checking vote-by-mail envelopes for voters' signatures and if the envelopes were postmarked on or before Election Day.
The election judges found loose ballots stuck between some envelopes, Grogan said, and sealed envelopes that seemed to contain ballots.
Grogan estimates there were about 100 loose or sealed ballots. He said he believes the sealed ballots were not counted.
Patrick Bond, the attorney for county clerk Jean Kaczmarek, is expected to submit a report about the recount to Belford next week.
White, who was sworn into office as county auditor in December, said on Thursday he did not want to comment until the report is given to the judge.
"I want this (resolved) sooner rather than later," he said.
Kaczmarek declined to comment about the discovery of the loose ballots and sealed envelopes.
However, she said in a statement that she is "extremely proud that DuPage's first countywide recount moved so smoothly and efficiently."
She credited "the detailed planning and organization of my staff and the dedicated work of the election judges."
Kaczmarek said the recount took less time than the 15 days predicted because Belford limited the scope.
Only ballots cast on Election Day were checked, plus vote-by-mail envelopes, Grogan said.
Attorneys for Grogan, White and Kaczmarek will meet Friday to take inventory of the ballots in dispute.
In the county auditor's race, Grogan had 233,046 votes to White's 233,121 votes, according to official results.
In a ruling last month, Belford dismissed Grogan's claim that more than 1,600 ballots were miscast and miscounted.
Grogan said he had asked the clerk's office after the election for a list of all the people who had voted but was instead given the entire voter database. After filtering out who didn't vote, he said it appeared the official vote canvass reported 1,626 more votes than people who voted.
But Kaczmarek argued in court Grogan was using a list of people registered to vote as of Dec. 4, 2020.
"It certainly does not establish anything even suggesting or smacking of election fraud," Belford said during a hearing last month.