Illinois moved a step closer to learning the winner of the Republican primary for governor Tuesday with the deadline for local authorities to finish counting absentee and provisional ballots, but it will still be days before final totals are available.
Sen. Kirk Dillard, who trails in the unofficial results, said he wants to see the official results compiled by the State Board of Elections before he decides whether to concede defeat.
"I'd like to see an official statewide tabulation done by the people who actually determine who wins and who loses," said the Hinsdale Republican.
His rival, Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, wasn't pressing Dillard for a quick decision.
"That's up to Sen. Dillard," Brady said. "We're confident his judgment will be good. I think it's premature to ask him to think about that until he sees what today's outcome brings."
Brady leads Dillard by 420 votes in unofficial returns compiled by The Associated Press. That's less than six one-hundredths of 1 percent.
Those results don't include every absentee ballot; some could still be counted as late as Tuesday, as long as they are postmarked before the election. They also do not count provisional ballots _ votes that were cast despite questions about a voter's registration status, which would then be cleared up after the election.
In Springfield, for instance, authorities counted 16 absentee or provisional ballots on Tuesday, The State Journal-Register reported. Seven votes were for Dillard and three for Kirk, with the remainder scattered among other candidates, meaning Dillard trimmed the lead by four votes.
Brady estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 votes remained to be counted as of Tuesday, a number so small that he saw little chance of Dillard closing the gap.
Local election authorities have a week to double check their count of the votes and submit official results to the State Board of Elections. The state board then has until March 5 to review the numbers, check for errors and produce official results.
Illinois law doesn't require an automatic recount in close races. A losing candidate who questioned the accuracy of the results would have to ask a court to order a re-count.
Dillard said he and Brady are "singing off the same hymnal" in their criticism of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, so the Republican Party isn't being harmed by this period of uncertainty about the nomination.