Laesch requests partial recount

John Laesch is asking for a partial recount of votes in several counties, including DeKalb, from last month's general primary in the Democratic race for the 14th Congressional District seat. Bill Foster received 32,410 votes in the Feb. 5 general primary, according to the canvass completed Friday by the State Board of Elections. Laesch has 32,012 votes, or 398 fewer than Foster, according to the State Board of Elections. Laesch's campaign filed petitions for discovery, or a partial recount, Friday in DeKalb County, as well as in Kane, Kendall, Lee and Whiteside counties and in the city of Aurora, which has a separate election commission. His campaign is not seeking discovery recounts in Bureau, DuPage and Henry counties. A candidate who receives 95 percent of the winner's total, which Laesch did, can look at 25 percent of the precincts within the district, DeKalb County Clerk Sharon Holmes said. The candidate has to pay $10 per precinct, she said, noting that it will cost her office much more than that to do the recounts. "I have to find the ballots for just these precincts," Holmes said during a phone interview Friday. "Whatever they want to do or see with them, I have to do." Candidates ask for recounts in hopes of finding more votes in their favor, she said. "If they can find something wrong, they can go to court," she said. Holmes plans to do the DeKalb County recounts at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The DeKalb petition asks for a discovery recount in 17 precincts in the county, with all but one in DeKalb Township. Laesch's filing has nothing to do with the special election held Saturday. Foster faced Republican Jim Oberweis in the election, which was held to determine who will fill the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, who retired late last year. Foster won the special election, and will represent the district until January 2009. In November, voters will decide who will fill that seat for a complete term, beginning in January 2009. While Foster has claimed victory in both Democratic primaries held Feb. 5 - a general and special primary were held that day for the 14th Congressional District - Laesch has yet to conceded the general primary. That's the election his most recent filing is regarding. In his letter to election authorities in the 14th Congressional District, Laesch's attorney said "it is essential that the discovery recount begin on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, so that the parties will have sufficient information upon which to determine whether an election contest proceeding in the circuit court is appropriate to be filed on Friday, March 14, 2008." Laesch has petitioned Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham for a discovery recount in 16 precincts in Kane County. Laesch's attorney, Richard Means, also filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Cunningham's office for records from the Feb. 5 general primary election. Means said in the request that Laesch wanted to examine, among other things, the integrity of early voting and the accuracy of the polling place results. The equipment used to tally votes is accurate, Cunningham said. "I would say the chances of finding any votes, he certainly has the right to do it, but other recounts we've done, they've ended up being 100 percent right," Cunningham said. Means declined to comment on the filing both Friday and Saturday, saying the Laesch campaign preferred to wait until Sunday after the results from the special election have been tallied. Kane County Chronicle Reporter Eric Schelkopf contributed to this report.