The Illinois Supreme Court in an unsigned order on Monday rejected a motion by a DuPage County clerk to overturn a local judge’s ruling ordering the clerk how she should verify the authenticity of late mailed ballots.
The ruling is made when Tuesday is the last day of voting sent on or before November 8 election day can be verified and counted – with a tight race between GOP State Representative Deanne Mazzochi and Democratic challenger Jenn Ladisch Douglass, both of Elmhurst, hangs in the balance.
On Monday, unofficial vote totals showed Douglass had 343 votes ahead of Mazzochi in the district, which also includes a chunk of western Cook County, from 21,864 to 21,521.
The contentious issue in this case is how late ballots are verified and counted in DuPage County.
Mazzochi, an attorney and deputy leader of the House GOP, purported DuPage County official Jean Kaczmarek improperly verified signatures on mail-in ballots by using a mail-in voting app instead of the voter’s registration signature located at the office.
Mazzochi filed a lawsuit to challenge the signature verification method, and last week DuPage County District Judge James Orel sided with Mazzochi and ordered Kaczmarek to certify the validity of mail-in ballots with a voter registration signature located in her office and forbade secretariat use the signatures of the correspondence voting application to verify the sent signatures on the ballot papers.
“Using a mail-in voting app to qualify signatures on the mail-in ballot itself would be an obvious way to commit electoral fraud,” Orel said in its order.
The Orzel order also informed Kaczmarek that if the voter’s signature on the mail-in ballot did not match the signature recorded in the electoral register, the ballot must be segregated, marked “rejected” and follow the procedures required to contact the voter to verify its authenticity.
Kaczmarek applied for an emergency supervisory order from the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn Orel’s ruling, claiming that the court could not interfere with the counting of votes and that Mazzochi’s actions were premature because once all votes had been counted, she would have the opportunity to contest the election.
Kaczmarek’s application warned that Orela’s action “invites political agents of any political union to file unauthorized lawsuits during the counting of votes in the ongoing election, in the hope that an Illinois court will assume the role of election official and order the counting of votes as they see fit.”
Monday’s Supreme Court ruling means Orel’s order remains intact. Mazzochi has the ability to challenge election results.
In the lawsuit, Mazzochi said the court’s intervention was necessary to “ensure that the Electoral Code was respected and that only votes cast legally were counted.”
She claimed that without the involvement of the court, “the official’s unlawful practices will remain unchecked and the election results will be tabulated in violation of the law.”
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