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Zinke will not contest sheriff's election results

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 11:09 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 3, 2014 12:03 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – Andrew Zinke will not ask a court for a full recount of his razor-thin loss to Bill Prim in the Republican primary for McHenry County sheriff following a partial recount that resulted in a net gain of one vote.

The discovery recount of 53 of the county’s 212 voting precincts – the maximum of one quarter allowed under state law – netted one more vote for Zinke and one less vote for Prim. Prim had won the March 18 primary nomination for sheriff by 97 votes.

Given that County Clerk Katherine Schultz’s office found a grand total of four irregularities, it would have been very unlikely that a circuit court judge would have found probable cause to order a complete recount. Zinke, who thanked his supporters and his family, hedged at calling it a concession.

“I’m not going to belabor the moment. Given how close it was, I would have been foolish not to check and make sure,” Zinke said Friday.

Prim also thanked his supporters Friday, and said he was happy the recount further verified that he won the primary. He said he and his campaign are moving ahead toward winning the Nov. 4 election.

“It’s what we anticipated. I’m certainly happy with it, but it’s what we expected ... we didn’t anticipate anything different, and we’re certainly happy and excited about it,” Prim said.

Prim may face a challenge from independent candidate Jim Harrison, if Harrison can find enough signatures to get on the ballot. Harrison needs more than 6,000.

Zinke, the county undersheriff, and Prim, a retired Des Plaines police commander, ran to replace Sheriff Keith Nygren, who is not seeking re-election. Nygren has been sheriff since 1997.

The first step in contesting an election’s results in Illinois is a discovery recount in which voting machines and ballots from selected precincts are examined to determine whether there is anything that could potentially lead to a change in the results. A requester who concludes that this is the case can then ask a judge to order a full recount.

The petitioner picks the precincts, and is charged a $10 fee per precinct, meaning Zinke’s campaign paid $530 for the recount.

But Schultz said only four of the 53 precincts showed discrepancies from the vote totals certified last month by her office.

Prim gained one vote in Alden Township Precinct 1, but lost a vote in Algonquin Township Precinct 19. Zinke gained one vote in Algonquin Township Precinct 23, and Prim lost one vote in Algonquin Township Precinct 46. No discrepancies were found in early voting ballots.

Battle lines were drawn in the McHenry County Republican Party early on in the long and acrimonious race. Zinke had the backing of nearly every local Republican elected official who weighed in, as well as local law enforcement and Nygren himself. But Prim, running on a reform platform, had the backing of State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi – whose squabbles with Nygren have been well-documented – and a grassroots effort by up-and-coming Republicans seeking to buck the GOP establishment.

That they did – their efforts and the momentum of Prim’s victory March 18 catapulted a pro-Prim slate last month to victory in the Republican party’s caucus to pick its leaders.

New party Chairwoman Sandra Fay Salgado said Friday she believes both camps will unite to move toward victory in November.

“I’m fully confident that the Republicans on both sides are going to be able to get behind Bill Prim,” Salgado said. “That doesn’t mean all the wounds are healed, but the Republican Party sees the importance of getting behind everyone who won their primary races.”

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