Unofficial results from Tuesday’s consolidated election released by the Cook County Clerk’s office place write-in candidate Dan Sodaro fives votes, give or take a few, behind Bob Streit in the Oak Lawn Village Board Trustee race.
County election authorities still have not certified the vote in the 3rd District race that saw 730 write-in ballots cast to Streit’s 735 in the district’s eight precincts. Both preliminary counts released on Wednesday factor in early voting and absentee ballots.
Of the 6,687 voters registered in the 3rd District’s eight precincts — 3, 26, 27, 33, 35, 46, 85 and 112 — 1,735 ballots were cast in Tuesday’s election marked by a dismally low 16 percent voter turnout. Voters in the 3rd District also voted for library trustees and school and park board members.
Streit spent most of Tuesday sitting on a lawn chair outside the Johnson-Phelps VFW Post, greeting voters before they went inside the post to vote. Later that evening at De Ja Brew, where Streit had gathered with supporters to await the election returns, the senior trustee appeared stunned as Village Manager Larry Deetjen added up the precinct counts on a paper plate.
During the campaign, Streit associate Andy Skoundrianos chased Sodaro off the ballot after several politically volatile village electoral board hearings. Skoundrianos charged that Sodaro had committed “perjury and fraud” when circulating his nominating petitions—a mantra repeated by Streit throughout the heated campaign.
While Skoundrianos took the heat for filing the objection, Streit attended all of the hearings, sitting directly behind his friend and attorney Dennis Brennan, taking notes.
"The objection was legitimate," Streit said Tuesday night. "(Sodaro's) petitions essentially contained perjury by him and by one of his biggest supporters, Lynn Craig. Frankly, I don't think he should have run as a candidate in Oak Lawn. I don't think he should have been allowed to."
The Cook County Clerk has until April 26 to certify the votes in Tuesday’s suburban races. Sodaro ran as a certified write-in candidate. Only those votes for eligible write-in candidates are counted, as opposed to cartoon characters and celebrities.
Over the next two weeks, county election authorities will review all of the information provided by election judges from the 3rd District precincts. After the polls close, judges tally up the write-in votes and determine those that are valid.
According to the Cook County Clerk’s instructions to election judges, “Complete accuracy of a write-in candidate’s name is not necessary as long as the election judges can determine a voter’s intent to select a specific write-in candidate.”
“The name doesn’t have to be spelled correctly,” said Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for the county clerk’s office. “We basically say there should be some relationship between the appearance and sound of the name on the ballot.”
If judges disagree about the validity of a write-in ballot, then a majority of judges will make the determination whether to count the vote. It is also likely that not all of the write-in ballots cast in the 3rd District will go to the certified write-in candidate, as some will go to cartoon characters or sports figures. Mickey Mouse, Homer Simpson and Michael Jordan are popular choices on write-in ballots, but are not counted.
By Wednesday, five absentee ballots requested in the 3rd District still had not been received by the county clerk’s office. As long as those ballots are postmarked by April 4, they can still be counted, Greve said.
While Sodaro’s chances of pulling off the seemingly impossible task of deposing the village board’s longest serving trustee had dimmed by Wednesday afternoon, Sodaro can still request a discovery recount.
Should a losing candidate capture 95 percent of the vote (in Sodaro’s case 36 votes within Streit’s 735), losing candidates can petition to have 25 percent of precincts re-tabulated. Such a recount could buy enough votes to put Sodaro ahead of Streit's 735.
“In this case of eight precincts, two precincts can be re-tabulated,” Greve said.