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Fire district eyes options on ballot loss in Kane County

Losing by 32 votes stymies fire officials

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District officials considered various options in response to the loss of its referendum March 20 by 32 votes.

The district asked for a 16-cent increase that would have increased the rate to 43 cents from the current rate of 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value, providing approximately $1 million more per year, officials had said.

The fire district's attorney, Kenneth Shepro, presented various options at a special meeting April 9.

One process to challenge the results is called discovery, in which the Kane County Clerk’s Office would rerun the ballots and check the paper trail, Shepro said.

“They will look at basically everything,” Shepro said. “The likelihood of actually finding a [voting] machine error of 32 votes is virtually nil.”

But election officials can see if other things went wrong, Shepro said, such as whether a voter was given the wrong ballot.

“But if we find a bag of 100 yes votes, it can’t be used,” Shepro said.

While the fire district itself does not have legal standing to seek discovery, five legal voters in the district can initiate discovery by writing a letter to the county clerk, Shepro said, designating up to a quarter of the precincts for a recount.

If enough voters file multiple discovery requests, they could theoretically recount each of the 23 precincts in the fire district, Shepro said.

“Are we going to find 32 votes? No,” Shepro said. “We may find other information. It costs $10 per precinct so it would cost us $230.”

Officials will consider actions to vote on at their next regular meeting at 7 p.m. April 16 at Fire Station No.1, 34W500 Carl Lee Road, St. Charles Township.

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