Though DuPage County Election Commission officials originally predicted a much longer process, it only took a few hours of recounting votes to give a Democratic recorder candidate a belated victory.
Lombard resident Moon Khan, who seemingly lost his bid to become the party's nominee in the March 15 primary election after a write-in campaign, emerged victorious from an April 21 court-ordered recount showing he reached the minimum vote threshold.
"It reaffirmed my personal belief in the number of votes I got," Khan said. "The speed with which all these numbers came up shows that there were paramount miscalculations of votes."
Khan originally appeared to be 145 votes short of the 844 threshold to receive the nomination. However, he questioned the results as more than 4,000 Democrats cast a vote for a write-in candidate in the election, saying he believed election judges did not properly tabulate his totals.
On April 19, he received an official court order to initiate a recount, which began at 9 a.m. April 21.
By about 3 p.m., he already had enough votes to win after commission judges got through the paper ballots for only 342 of the 869 precincts in the county.
The court order stipulated the count would stop if or when Khan reached the threshold to save taxpayer money, but Election Commission Assistant Executive Director Joseph Sobecki said he believed Khan could have received more than 1,000 votes in total.
That means judges may have miscounted several hundred votes around the county.
"This has never been a process we went through – it looked like he picked up one vote every two precincts or so," he said. "Now we can look at the data and determine why certain votes were not tallied and communicate with the judges."
Sobecki attributed the speed of the process to conservative estimates on how long it would take to retabulate votes.
Khan said while he was happy with the results, he was disappointed it took what he said were thousands of dollars in legal fees to find the truth, and worried other races may have been affected by the mistakes. He called for the commission to "be brave enough" to reimburse him for his costs.
"The common citizen should not be punished or fined for the bad behavior of the county commissioners of the election department," Khan said.
He believed his case should warrant a reassessment of the entire system, including giving the commission authority to initiate an investigation on its own without an official court order.
On April 6, a pair of Wayne Township Republican committeemen also won in a recount, finding several dozen votes between them that were not tallied.
Sobecki said there had yet to be an estimate on the amount of money Khan's recount cost the commission, nor was there a policy under state statute to reimburse candidates who had to seek a court order to get a recount.
"There is a process and mechanism in place for a candidate who has a question about the totals they have, and that's what happened here," he said.
The commission would now look over the data, Sobecki said, but he did not say there would be any policy or training changes after the recount, beyond stressing the importance of counting each vote regardless of whether the candidate is running unopposed.
Khan said he believed his victory showed the people of DuPage were ready for a change in the system, but he also thought the incident was a "nudge" for democracy and voting rights in DuPage.
It should be used to strengthen the process, he said, particularly as election judges have been asked to shoulder more burdens with bigger turnouts in elections.
"Management has to find out whether judges are in a position to handle that number of votes," he said.