A Democratic candidate for DuPage County recorder is considering legal action, claiming his failed write-in campaign may have been sabotaged by uncounted or miscounted votes in the March primary.
Lombard resident Moon Khan was forced to mount a write-in campaign after signatures on his nominating petitions were challenged in late 2015, but he failed to get the 844 votes in March to gain the November nomination.
Khan received 699 votes, though he believes that as the main write-in candidate, he may have received more than enough votes from the more than 4,000 people who took a Democratic ballot. No other Democrat was officially on the ballot.
"Voters' rights are at stake; this is a civil rights issue," he said. "It's not an issue of whether I am on the ballot or not. But 3,300 or 3,500 people voted for me or voted for somebody, and their vote should be accounted for."
Khan said he met with the DuPage County Election Commission to encourage the group to investigate what happened, believing voting machines or on-site judges may not have tallied his votes correctly.
He said he had even been contacted by voting rights activists from across the country for advice.
Commission Executive Director Robert Saar confirmed the two sides had met but said a machine or software failure was not possible.
Saar said voters can vote for write-in candidates either by filling out the oval next to the designated space on paper ballots or selecting the option to write in a candidate on a voting machine. Then, voters write in the name of the candidate they want to support.
Trained bipartisan judges then look at the ballots that are marked with a write-in candidate to determine the "intent, and not perfection" in the spelling or identification of the write-in candidate.
Often, the ballots are filled with joke candidates or non-serious candidates, Saar said.
"[Khan] saying that he thinks the machine somehow or another failed here is just not the case," he said.
Saar acknowledged potential problems could come from human error on the judge level and the incorrect characterization of the intent of the voters, but said he had no reason to believe that would be the case for such a large number of ballots.
He also acknowledged the 3,000-plus votes not going toward an established candidate seemed like an outlier but said his hands were tied.
Once ballots are cast, they are securely stored for 60 days to protect them from tampering as candidates get the chance to go to court to file discoveries for an official review and recount of the totals. In essence, he said, they serve as evidence for potential court cases.
The Election Commission has no authority to conduct a review on its own, Saar said, and any results Khan would be hoping for would have to go through the courts.
"I don't, as director, have any authority unilaterally given to me by the statute," he said. "If [Khan] feels like...there's a problem, I can't just go, 'Yup, I'm going to go out there and start touching voted ballots.' They're held for 60 days and held for good reason."