Recount underway in Champaign County auditor's race

Recount underway in Champaign County auditor's race

URBANA — Staff members of the Champaign County Clerk's Office on Wednesday began the lengthy discovery-recount process requested by George Danos, the Democratic candidate for county auditor who lost in last month's election by 36 votes.

Seven staffers, including County Clerk Gordy Hulten, were involved at the start of the recount process Wednesday.

The discovery recount involves counting all of the votes cast in 29 precincts, all selected by Danos and all in Champaign-Urbana, in the auditor's race between him and Republican John Farney.

"The process is going to be pretty time-consuming because of the way we do early voting in Champaign County and the quantity of early-voting ballots that we have in Champaign County," Hulten said. "We had almost 40,000 early votes, about 45 percent of our total."

For each precinct selected by Danos for the recount, the clerk's office staff has to find bins of ballots cast on Election Day, but also sort through storage cases of early-vote ballots and find any that are from those 29 precincts.

"We have to dig those ballots out, set them aside and then prepare for the recount. We have to do that for every early-voting location," Hulten said. "We're recounting about 27,000 ballots all totaled, but we're going to have to touch 50,000 or 60,000 to identify those 27,000 ballots, then separate them out, keep them segregated because once we get done with the process, we have to put them all back."

Hulten said he didn't know how long the process would take.

"It may take a couple days. It may take us a couple weeks," he said. "In my time as county clerk, we've never done a discovery recount."

Hulten said he and his staff had set aside Wednesday and the first three workdays next week to sort, collect and count the ballots.

"We can't do this all day, every day until we get done, as much as we'd like to, because we have another election coming up that's 75 days away, and we've got work that we need to do for that, and we can't let this interfere," he said.

Danos paid $10 per precinct for the discovery recount, a total of $290. The rest of the costs recount will be borne by taxpayers.

"This machine count, we have to absorb the cost of it," Hulten said. "Our cost will be staff time, plus we need some supplies including transfer cases and envelopes and labels. Right now, our budget for our office is completely exhausted for this fiscal year."

Hulten has submitted two budget amendments to the county board, one for election judges for the November election and another, for $1,400, for supplies for the discovery recount.

Chris Stohr, a Democratic precinct committeeman from Urbana, represented Danos at the beginning of the recount process Wednesday morning.

"I just watch the process, look over the shoulders and try to follow what folks are doing," Stohr said.

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