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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It ain't over in the 49th Ward

Posted By on 04.24.07 at 11:44 PM

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 On April 14, three days before the aldermanic runoff elections, 49th Ward challenger Don Gordon sent out an e-mail accusing alderman Joe Moore of shady get-out-the-vote practices in the first round of balloting, on February 27. Gordon claimed Moore had illegally campaigned inside of polling stations by introducing himself to voters as they were lined up to get their ballots. And Moore had been friendly with election judges, Gordon alleged--and his campaign had further corrupted some polling places by dropping off boxes of doughnuts with Moore's name on them. 

The e-mail also quoted a Gordon poll watcher who said he'd witnessed Chicago election board officials helping nursing-home residents cast early runoff ballots--even though they didn't request or need it. "[N]umerous voters were given 'assistance,' primarily by two of the election judges. . . . [One of the judge's] assistance even went so far as wheeling residents in and out of the polling area. These two election judges seemed, to me at least, to be 'assisting' far beyond the limits of casting a vote as directed by the voter. There seemed to be coaxing of the voters occurring, pointing to specific areas of the ballot (although, as the voting was done behind a privacy screen, I could not see exactly where they were pointing)."

Gordon lost the runoff by 247 votes, but on Tuesday he turned the e-mail charges into a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court. The suit, which names Moore and Chicago and Illinois election commissioners as defendants, alleges that at least 254 fraudulent votes were cast in the runoff, including the "assisted" nursing-home ballots. It also claims that another 95 voters were given ballots even though their signatures weren't checked against registration records.

Gordon assumes that all of the "fraudulent" votes went for Moore. "When these corrections have been made and adjusted, the Election will be reversed because Gordon will be shown to have received the majority of the votes cast and he will then be proclaimed the winner," the lawsuit declares. It asks the court for additional time to investigate the alleged irregularities as well as "such other relief that is just and proper."

Not surprisingly, Moore predicted the suit would be dismissed. "On its face, it's ridiculous, frankly," he said.

Moore said Gordon was "casting aspersions" on officials with the board of elections and the Cook County state's attorney's office. "I'm not surprised, given the scorched-earth campaign he ran," he said. "Don Gordon gives new meaning to the phrase 'sore loser.'"

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