Vote Watch 2004
Vote/Election fraud, vote suppression, voting irregularities, voter intimidation in Election 2004



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10/21/04 [Permalink]
Christine Cegelis, Democratic challenger to longtime GOP Rep. Henry Hyde left off sample ballots printed in newspapers in Illinois

As the article notes, the GOP controls the county election board which makes this quite fishy - but I'm not going to attribute intent to this yet without further evidence. Via reader SM, here is a report in the Daily Herald:

U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde has competition in the upcoming election - no matter what was in local newspapers Wednesday.

The DuPage County Election Commission left Democratic challenger Christine Cegelis' name off of the sample ballot printed in 43 area newspapers.

The sample, which the county is required by law to publish, shows the incumbent Hyde running unopposed in the 6th Congressional District. Cegelis is listed as an unchallenged candidate for the 41st Illinois Senate seat, a race in which state Sen. Christine Radogno is the only choice.

DuPage election officials say the error was unintentional, but Cegelis doesn't believe it.

"This is the most hotly contested race in DuPage County," she said. "I can't believe it was an honest mistake."

Robert T. Saar, the election commission's director, said he is investigating how the error occurred. The sample ballot printed on the county's Internet site is correct, as are the candidate listings in the office's computers.

Absentee ballots - many of which already have been punched - show a Hyde-Cegelis race, he said. The Nov. 2 ballots also have both names.

"How we made this mistake is beyond me," he said. "This isn't supposed to happen. We take our jobs very seriously."

The Rolling Meadows Democrat thinks her name may have been deleted by a someone in the Republican party, which has members controlling - and staffing - all countywide offices. DuPage makes up 60 percent of the 6th Congressional District, while the northwest suburbs account for 40 percent.

"It's disturbing," Cegelis said. "I thought that this would be a fair election. I was wrong."

Cegelis said she does not believe Hyde, who has been in Congress for 30 years, had anything to do with the error.

Saar denies his staff would sabotage the sample ballot.

"I know what it looks like to her," he said. "I grieve about that. I work very, very hard to impart a level of confidence with the parties that this office is fair and impartial."

The commission will reprint two corrected pages of the sample ballot in local papers, in accordance with state law, Saar said. The county will absorb the cost for the second printing.

Cegelis, however, wants the county to publish the entire ballot again. Otherwise, she says she will be at a disadvantage with voters who take the sample into the voting booth with them.

Reader SM also sent in this report in the Chicago Tribune:

Christine Cegelis, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress in the 6th District, expressed outrage Wednesday at the DuPage County Election Commission for putting her name in the wrong place in a voters guide that was sent out for inclusion in dozens of local newspapers.

The 12-page guide includes lists of all the candidates for office in DuPage and referendum questions that will appear on the November ballot, as well as voting instructions. In it, the name of Cegelis' opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, appears as if he's running unopposed. Cegelis' name appears as if she's running unopposed for state Senate District 41, a seat held by Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who actually is unopposed.

"This was not an honest mistake," Cegelis said, pointing out that she won a contested primary, so election officials should know her name. "This does not give me any confidence in DuPage County's ability to hold a fair election."

Robert Saar, the Election Commission's executive director, took responsibility for what he called a "cut and paste" error and pledged to make sure voters are informed about their correct election choice. Election Day ballots will not be affected, he said.

"The bottom line is I'm looking at a fact that we created a very serious error, and I'm taking it as serious as a heart attack here, and we're going to have a two-page correction in every paper to make sure the voters know there was an error," he said.

Democratic officials said they were "appalled" and pointed out further mistakes on the certified general election notice. The word "senate" was misspelled "sentate" and the index told voters that two candidates for County Board and the Forest Preserve District Board would be elected in each district, when only one will.

"This is an obvious ploy to disenfranchise and confuse the electorate," said DuPage Democratic Party Chairwoman Gayl Ferraro, who called it a result of one-party rule in the staunchly Republican county.

Saar defended the integrity of his non-partisan office. "There's no history of that sort of thing," he said. He also promised a comprehensive internal audit to determine how the mistake occurred and prevent it from happening again.

"Accepting responsibility for the mistake is a necessary step to correcting the problem, which the commission appropriately has committed to doing," said Sam Stratman, a Hyde campaign spokesman.

It was unclear how many readers had seen the inserts, but Saar conceded that hundreds of thousands of them had been distributed to 43 local papers, most of which hit the streets on Wednesday or Thursday.

The guide appeared in Wednesday's editions of the Lombardian and the Villa Park Review, which have a total circulation of about 18,000.

The Tribune does not run the insert.

Saar estimated corrections could cost up to $12,000. "Whatever it takes, that's what's going to be done," he said, adding that they would appear in all 43 papers, whether they had included the incorrect guide or not and regardless of whether they circulate in the 6th Congressional District.

Democrats called on the commission to release a corrected 12-page voter guide, but Saar said taxpayers would not support that.

The correction "will be big, it will be bold and we'll fulfill all the [legal] requirements," he pledged.

Dailykos has a picture of the ballot. 



















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