What started out Thursday as an investigation into irregularities with nine vote-by-mail applications added a tenth on Friday. In all cases, the applications, which arrived in the office of the DuPage County Clerk in September, appear to be hewing close to a time-honored Chicago tradition: dead voters.
"Applications for vote by mail ballots came into her office from people who they determined were deceased when those applications were filled out," State's Attorney Robert Berlin told NBC5. "Like anything, we have to investigate to see what happened in each of these cases, and that's what we're doing."
Noting that the ten applications in question represent a tiny percentage of applications already processed, County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek suggested a nefarious motive was afoot, and said the fact that her office caught the ballot applications shows that the system works.
"Testing the process is not a game," she said. "It's just not worth it---don't even try."
Kaczmarek declined to say what prompted her to suggest that someone was "testing the system." Berlin said four of the applications are being actively investigated, while officials do not believe there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges in connection with the other six.
"In other words, we couldn't determine conclusively who filled those applications out, or we just had insufficient proof beyond the reasonable doubt in those six cases," he said.
Berlin deferred when asked about Kaszmarek's suggestion that the ten ballot applications might have been sent in by a person or persons "testing the system."
"I don't want to speculate," he said. "Certainly it's a possibility---they could be forgeries, they could be mistakes, confusion, there's many different explanations."
Kaczmarek emphasized that existing systems caught the bad applications. And Berlin agreed that "the process that the clerk has in place is working."
"This is going to be a fair election," Berlin said. "I'm confident in saying there is not one ballot that has come in that is not legitimate."
The ten ballot applications in question represent a statistical blip on the electoral radar. Some 210,000 ballot applications have been received in DuPage County. Indeed, as previous totals continue to be shattered throughout the state, Kaczmarek noted 28% of the DuPage electorate has already cast a ballot.
"This year we are breaking records," she said, noting that Election Day is still 11 days away. "There was a high interest in this election months ago."