Bethany Krajelis Mar. 21, 2014, 12:07pm

The "every vote counts" saying couldn't be more true for a pair of candidates in a Cook County judicial subcircuit race.

As of today, the Cook County Clerk's office continued to count votes in the five-way race for the 15th Subcircuit after Tuesday's Democratic primary failed to produce an obvious winner as the margin separating two candidates was just too close to call.

Chris Lawler led Michael B. Barrett in the tally by 15 votes as of Friday morning, said Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for the clerk's office.

Lawler, who was appointed a judge in the 15th Subcircuit in July, had 4,199 votes and Barrett, a trial lawyer in Palos Heights, had 4,184 votes, unofficial results show.

That number, however, is bound to change as Greve said the clerk's office still has mail and provisional ballots to count.

She said the office has two weeks after the election to count provisional ballots -- those used to record votes of voters whose eligibility was in question and needs to be verified -- and can receive mail ballots for two weeks after the primary as long as they were postmarked the day before the election.

The clerk's office usually has the final vote results within two to three weeks of the election, Greve said, noting that election results get certified with the Illinois State Board of Elections by April 8.

After all of the ballots are counted and the final results are in, Greve said the losing candidate could request a discovery recount of up to 25 percent of the precincts if his votes are within 5 percent of the winning candidate's vote total.

If the losing candidate believes the information produced during that fact-finding process shows there is a need for a recount, he can then bring that information to the courts to formally contest the election.

And if the vote ends in a tie, Greve said the race would then go to a coin toss. She said she believed the last time a Cook County race was decided by a coin toss was in 2011.

Whoever comes out of the Democratic primary as the winner will go into the General Election unopposed as there is no Republican candidate in the race for the south suburban judicial subcircuit.

The other three candidates in the primary each garnered far less votes than Lawler and Barrett. Unofficial results show Sondra Denmark with 2,799 votes; Mary Beth Duffy with 1,973; and Robbin Perkins with 3,014.

Both Lawler and Barrett were deemed "qualified" in judicial evaluations conducted by the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers.

Campaign contribution records show Lawler's campaign committee had about $95,000 at the end of last year while Barrett's had about $9,800.

Records show Lawler's committee reported receiving about $10,000 in donations since Jan. 1, during which time Barrett's committee brought in about $22,000, of which the candidate contributed $7,000 himself.

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