URBANA — New accusations of errors in the official results of the March 18 primary election in Champaign County have been leveled by Al Klein, head of the county's Democratic Party.
But County Clerk Gordy Hulten, a Republican, says he is confident in the results and accuses Klein of "playing politics."
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The new claims are unrelated to the complete retabulation of all Democratic votes cast in the county last month after irregularities were found in the unofficial election results. The retabulation was ordered by Hulten after Klein uncovered an unusual number of undervotes in some uncontested races on the Democratic ballot.
The county's results were made official on April 1, when provisional ballots and late-arriving absentee votes were included in the count.
The state Board of Elections is expected to include those numbers Friday when it makes official the vote totals from all election authorities in the state.
Klein, however, said he would ask the Board of Elections to "refrain from certifying the flawed results from Champaign County and including them in district totals until the county's ballot processing issues have been identified and resolved."
The board's executive director, Robert Borgsmiller, said it's unlikely the board would act on Klein's request.
"Unless there is something that would impact a race that we're responsible for, and unless we get a court order that tells us not to do something, I'm not saying that we ignore what (Klein) is saying; we might get 102 county chairmen from one party or the other that says we shouldn't certify those results," Borgsmiller said. "There's got to be more to it than just that."
In his new allegations, Klein said he found a number of inconsistencies in the reporting of the official election results in uncontested races, both on the Democratic and Republican sides, as well as the labeling of a Republican appellate court justice candidate, Lisa Holder White, as a candidate for circuit court.
In that case, Hulten said he used coding provided by the state Board of Elections.
"When we code now as part of this new software we used for this election, we code the offices with an office ID number. They're indexed in a database that the state Board of Elections provides for us for a particular office," Hulten said.
The other problematic results include an issue in the Cunningham 14 precinct in Urbana (which votes at Clark-Lindsey Village), where the official results state that 243 Democratic votes were cast, but where there were 244 votes in the precinct committeeman race. There was a similar issue in the city of Champaign 34 precinct, where 229 Republican ballots were cast but there were 243 votes in the precinct committeeman contest.
Asked how he would explain the disparity, Hulten said he couldn't "without doing a couple weeks worth of diagnostics on it (but) that is probably the result of merging in the result of the retabulated ballots with the Election Day ballots."
He also said there could be an inconsistency "because sometimes the machines will count things one way and sometimes they'll count them another way."
Still, Hulten said he believed the county's election results were accurate.
"We have counted every ballot that was cast in Champaign County. We did so accurately. We did so using the machines. In some cases, we did so twice," he said. "We're confident in the results. We reported them to the state Board of Elections and they're official.
"I understand that the Democratic Party is going to want to play politics with this. They're going to try to make an issue out of this for a long time, I suspect. But we have reported our official results for Champaign County to the state Board of Elections and they're official and we're confident in them."
Asked if he had confidence in the tabulating machines and software used by the clerk's office, Hulten said, "There were a number of cases where the Democratic Party chairman or a candidate asked us to do a handcount and compare it to a machine count and compare it to the report, and everything matched. Every single time."
Klein said he is continuing his search for a candidate to oppose Hulten in the November general election. The Democratic Party still can slate a candidate either this month or next and then help him or her get some 280 signatures on petitions of candidacy.
"This is not going to be a routine candidacy. This is different," Klein said. "The search is not closed yet. We want the best possible candidate."