A Chicago election official has been fired in the aftermath of a contentious election that has resulted in a criminal probe of disruptive robocalls and complaints about “irregularities” in handling ballots in the state treasurer’s race. […]
But the firing comes amid complaints from the campaign of Republican candidate for state treasurer Tom Cross. A lawyer for the campaign wrote a letter to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners about “numerous irregularities identified by election monitors in the handling of ballots” for the Nov. 4 election.
“In fact, we are informed and believe that at least one employee of the [Chicago Board of Election Commissioners] has been terminated in conjunction with — if not because of — these irregularities,” lawyer William J. Quinlan wrote in the letter dated Thursday, which was obtained by Early & Often.
Quinlan claims there have been issues with absentee ballots, including errors in counting of those ballots and the discovery of absentee ballots in a closet at the board of elections’ “premises.” Some issues he notes regarding provisional ballots includes ballots left behind at polling places and ballots received after the Nov. 5 deadline, according to the letter.
Allen, of the Chicago Board of Election, said the agency “will respond point by point to the credibility, or lack thereof” of the allegations.
* The Board’s response is, indeed, point by point. You can read the whole thing by clicking here.
Regarding your second point, your claim that an “additional” 1,406 absentee ballots were “discovered” in a closet on or about November 12, is also inaccurate. There were unopened absentee ballot envelopes containing absentee ballots located in different parts of the Absentee Department that were consolidated, placed in sealed cases, and then placed in a secure, locked closet in a locked room used by the Board’s head of security… (T)he “existence” of these ballots was, in fact, previously known by Republican Party watchers and Mr. Fogarty. These ballot envelopes were consolidated into sealed cases and stored in a locked room. Mr. Fogarty was allowed to extensively examine these ballot envelopes.
Finally, regarding an employee who was terminated by the Board, I am not going to discuss personnel issues. However, any and all matters that could affect the integrity of absentee ballots, including any such matters that might involve the employee in question, have been fully discussed with Mr. Fogarty as well as with representatives for the Democratic Party and are discussed in this letter as well.
* But check this out. If the race winds up within 500 or so votes, we’ve got a big problem on our hands…
Next, regarding your fourth point, there were indeed 99 absentee ballots that were not received by the Board in a timely manner yet ended up being commingled with otherwise valid absentee ballots. The Board learned early morning on Friday, November 7, that some absentee ballot envelopes received too late to be counted were permitted to be brought down to the room where valid absentee ballots were being processed. Upon learning this, the processing of absentee ballots was immediately suspended. Procedures to address this problem were drafted and Board staff and I met with lawyers from both political parties, including Mr. Fogarty, to discuss solutions to the problem. Ballot envelopes indicating they were received too late to be counted were removed from the absentee ballot processing room. However, there were 99 “too late” absentee ballot envelopes that had already been opened and the ballots within those envelopes had already been inter-filed with valid ballots organized behind ward and precinct header cards. All absentee ballots in those precincts and with the same ballot style were removed and segregated. In all, the Board identified a total of 558 absentee ballots, including the 99 “too late” ballots, that were pulled and segregated.
I want to emphasize that absolutely no absentee ballots, ballot envelopes or other materials were “discarded or destroyed” as you allege in you letter. Everything has been preserved.
I did inform Mr. Fogarty that, because it was impossible to identify which of the 558 absentee ballots were the 99 “too late” ballots and remove those 99 from counting without disenfranchising the other 459 voters who cast timely and valid absentee ballots, it was the Board’s plan to count all these ballots separately so as to produce a separate count and then to preserve those ballots separately. In that way, the political parties can be armed with information that they may use in any post-election court proceedings and may seek whatever remedy they wish before the court.
I’m wondering if that’s why the guy was fired.
This could take forever to sort out.
* In other news, Scott Kennedy updated his numbers…
I was told that Hancock County had updated numbers so I called during lunch and sure enough they do. They added 511 votes over what was previously publicly available and Cross gained 127 votes. They also said this was their final count and would have no further updates. The current margin is Tom Cross by 664 votes.
I will check everything again either tonight or more likely tomorrow.