Recount Madness Headed to Illinois?

Both governor's primaries separated by less than 1%

By Andrew Greiner
|  Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010  |  Updated 12:52 PM CDT
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Quinn: "The Primary is Over, and We Have Won"

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Quinn: "The Primary is Over, and We Have Won"

Quinn continues speaking as if he's won the election, but Hynes is calling for all votes to be counted.

Hynes: "Hang In There. Hold on Tight."

Comptroller Dan Hynes speaks to supporters and says he's not giving up the fight for the Democratic nomination.
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Just when you thought it was safe to head into November …

The contentious primary battle between Governor Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes will likely continue, possibly for months -- Gov. Quinn claimed victory last night, but his challenger, Comptroller Dan Hynes, didn't concede and hinted at a recount.

"If Democracy means anything, it means that we have to count all the votes," Hynes said Tuesday night in a speech to supporters at his election night headquarters. "That is what America is about. And that's always been the principal we've lived by. For all those watching tonight ... they want all the votes counted."

Quinn and Hynes are separated by about 5,000 votes, a margin of just under 1 percent.

The Republican primary battle for the Governor’s office is even closer: Bill Brady leads Kirk Dillard by just 500 votes.

Beyond the governor’s races, tight margins remain on numerous state and county races, including Illinois Comptroller. The razor-thin margins could lead to unprecedented recounts for a state with no automatic provisions for them.

The provisions follow thusly. 

Election authorities first must count late-arriving absentee ballots, randomly check some of the results, inspect voting equipment and then declare official winners. That takes up to two weeks.

Then a candidate can petition for a “discovery recount.”

Candidates can call for a “discovery recount” if a losing margin is within 5 percent of the winner.

The losing candidate can petition the state board of elections, or the county clerks office for smaller races, to retabulate votes in up to 25 percent of its precincts of the candidate’s choosing.

Cook County Clerk David Orr is preparing for the worst.

"Have any of you ever seen one election with a dozen recounts," he told the Chicago Tribune, shaking his head. "I see a lot of very tight races here."

The fights won't be pretty.

"In my experience, these inter party battles can be just as rancorous as any," he said.

If the discovery recount uncovers evidence of missed votes or disenfranchisement, the effected candidate can then opt to sue in circuit court for a full recount, a process Orr said can take months to complete.

Filing for discovery recounts is March 1.

If the discovery recount uncovers voting discrepancies, a candidate can then petition the Circuit Court to authorize a full recount.

The petitioning candidate would have to pay for it, too, state Elections Board executive director Daniel W. White told the Sun-Times.

Read the actual legal language here Section (10 ILCS 5/7‑63)

Candidate Profile: Pat Quinn

Candidate Profile: Dan Hynes

Candidate Profile: Bill Brady

Candidate Profile: Kirk Dillard

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