NORMAL — Marc Tiritilli wants a recount in the race for Normal mayor whether he wins or not.
“If we stop with it being so close, I think there would be a lingering question of, 'Is that really it?'” he said Wednesday. “With a recount, we leave all traces of doubt behind.”
All the details of that recount's procedure, cost and duration remained unclear, however, the day after Tiritilli and incumbent Chris Koos finished Tuesday's election with 3,106 and 3,113 votes, respectively — a photo finish for the town's top office.
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said her office, which administers Normal elections, is still figuring out what happens next. She's never handled a recount in a decade in the role.
She knows the first step: Wait for absentee ballots. While 13 absentee ballots arrived Wednesday morning, 22 still remain outstanding — more than enough to swing the race. Those must be postmarked no later than Election Day but have two weeks to arrive.
After absentee ballots are counted, Michael said, either candidate can request a "discovery" recount by May 1.
"Someone has to let us know, 'I want to come in,' and they get to pick 25 percent or less of the 30 precincts (in Normal to review). They take a look at (those ballots) under supervision. That's a charge of $10 per precinct," she said. "Then it gets expensive."
The next step would be a full recount, which must be requested in court. But how long candidates have to make that request, how the work would be paid for and how long it would take has not been determined.
"There's a lot we still don't know," Michael said.
When asked how he'll proceed, Koos said, "The count on the absentees will probably tell that story.”
“If I’ve won the election, I’m certainly not going to do anything,” he said. “We would probably do the discovery and then make our decisions (after a loss). ... My sense of it, honestly, is that you won’t find anything in discovery, but who knows? If you’re a person that’s that close, it may be worth a look.”
Tiritilli said he hopes to review 96 possible undervotes and one overvote — votes intended but not counted because the marking on the ballot suggested the voter wanted to choose neither or both candidates — in discovery.
“It’s possible somebody did mark an oval but no one recorded it. Something like that would be found in the discovery recount,” he said. “You can notice it, but it’s not an official change they can make without a full recount.”
Michael said she's reviewing whether the absentee ballots received so far can be counted before the two-week window closes. Tiritilli said he's willing to wait to preserve voter anonymity, which could be compromised if individual votes are published online.
“I want to make sure we do our utmost to ensure the integrity of the process,” he said. “It’s going to keep people engaged in the idea of what’s going on in local government, and for me that’s a good thing regardless of the outcome.”