The campaign of Will Guzzardi, who lost a Democratic primary to state Rep. Toni Berrios by 125 votes, says a post-election canvass has turned up evidence of fraud and irregularities in the election. None of the alleged indiscretions have been verified by NBC Chicago.
On Sunday, Guzzardi volunteers concluded a door-to-door canvass of several precincts, mostly in the 31st Ward, where Berrios’s father, Cook County Assessor and Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios, is committeeman. The Guzzardi campaign has not filed formal complaints about the process.
During the canvass, the campaign says it found 150 people whose signatures do not match the signatures on their voting sheets.
“We are finding people who said they did not vote on Election Day where there was a vote cast in their name,” said Rebecca Reynolds, Guzzardi’s campaign manager.
Asked whether the canvass has discovered enough Guzzardi votes to erase Berrios’s winning margin, Reynolds said, “It definitely continues to be an uphill battle. Part of the process is investigating whether there’s enough fraud to question the integrity of the election.”
Among the fraudulent incidents Guzzardi's campaign says it uncovered:
At the Barry School polling place in the 31st Ward, a poll watcher reported that election materials were given to and handled by Berrios campaign staff. The poll watcher had been checking in at the polling location throughout the morning and viewing the poll list to observe how many voters had voted at the location. However, later in the day, the polling list was missing from the station and polling location. When asked where the list had gone, the judge replied that she was instructed to give it to…a Berrios campaign operative.
In the 4th precinct of the 38th Ward, a Berrios precinct captain was reported having inappropriate contact with voters and election materials. Our volunteers and voters observed a Berrios volunteer at a polling station promising voters city services as they took their ballot, and obtaining their contact information for the provision of such services. At the end of the night, the same volunteer was handling ballots and other election materials. This person was not an election judge.
We had many complaints from voters about the Christopher House in Ward 35. The polling place opened nearly an hour late, turning away numerous voters. Poll-watchers were denied access to materials, and an official from the Board of Elections reportedly told judges not to show the poll watchers the poll list (which lists how many people have voted), saying to judges, “Just shake a stick at them to get them to leave.” At night's end, judges lost the key to the voting machine and delayed producing poll tape by two hours after polls closed.
Guzzardi has not yet decided whether to go to court in an effort to challenge the results of the election, which could result in fraudulent ballots being thrown out.
“We owe it to the voters to ensure that in close elections like this, the process is accurate,” Reynolds said. “We’ll be working to ensure that a lot of these practices that have been part of the Chicago tradition don’t happen anymore.”
Berrios's campaign has said they will not respond to allegations unless Guzzardi makes them official.
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