Two days after the polls closed on the March 20 Primary Election, the race for the 1st District seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners is still undecided.
Even though Brandon Johnson declared victory Tuesday night, sitting Commissioner Richard Boykin said the next day that he will not concede until “every vote is counted” and that, even after that happens, he would be open to contesting the election results if he’s still trailing by a close enough margin.
As of March 22, Johnson led Boykin by 367 votes — the former having secured 24,273 votes with the latter garnering 23,906 votes. There are roughly two precincts in the city where votes still need to be counted, according to the Chicago Board of Elections.
Boykin said on Wednesday that an unspecified number of absentee and provisional ballots, some from senior and nursing homes, still need to be counted. He said that he was told by the Cook County Clerk’s office that the counting could take a few days.
“I don’t know how many mail-in and provisional ballots are outstanding, but they could be upwards of a few thousand,” Boykin said, adding that the number of outstanding ballots makes Johnson’s lead somewhat tenuous.
“If we get to within 100 or 150 votes, we can demand a recount,” Boykin said. “But right now, this race is not over. We need to give the process a chance to work and let the people’s voices be heard. To concede and not have those votes counted erodes democracy.”
When reached on March 21, an official with the Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office requested some time to provide details about the number of outstanding ballots and how long it might take officials to count them. As of Thursday morning, the office had not gotten back with those details.
During his election night party in Chicago, Johnson said that his campaign’s tracking of the ballots have him up enough votes to win.
“We feel good about the tally and it has us in the best position,” Johnson said, adding that “our focus is moving forward and getting prepared to govern.”
When asked on March 21 whether he was surprised at Tuesday night’s results, Boykin instead took to describing Johnson’s campaign, which he called “very negative and deceptive.”
Boykin referenced “$500,000 in negative advertising calling me a Republican” and hundreds of fake campaign signs that described him as a Republican that appeared across the 1st District the weekend before the election.
Boykin said he doesn’t know “how many people were confused by the signs and decided to vote against me.”
On March 20, Johnson said that “people obviously wanted something different in the 1st District and I’m glad to be part of that.”