Surely this is just a tip in the iceberg but nothing will come of it, just as nothing came of the 2000 and 2004 election “shenanigans”…
Chicago election judges received misleading and factually incorrect robocalls before the midterm, causing close to 2,000 of them to not show up on Election Day. As a criminal investigation gets underway, the Chicago Sun-Times has tied the calls to two Republican activists while the Republican Party has denied involvement and distanced itself from the party members who it claims acted alone.
An unknown number of election judges received one or more automated phone calls that informed them about an additional required training session or told them they needed to vote a certain way in order to keep their position. As a result, polling places across the city were understaffed and lines reached seven hours in some precincts. A smaller number of voters were turned away from certain locations.
The city was forced to dispatch standby election judges when some polling places had just one or no election judges present at 6 a.m. when polls were scheduled to open. At the time, the Chicago Board of Elections said it didn’t know who made the calls or why they were sent out. The Cook County State’s Attorney has launched a criminal investigation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for hearings on the robocalls.
“There’s nothing more important than the integrity of the democratic electoral process,” Emanuel said when he and the City Council passed a resolution calling for hearings. “Somebody called with the intent to create confusion.”
While the city hasn’t revealed any additional information, the Sun Times reported that one of the callers identified himself as Jim Parrilli, a Republican committeeman for the 19th Ward who was defeated in his run for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. In one call, he identified himself as the Cook County Election Judge Coordinator and told the election judges that voting is required and “part of being a Republican judge means supporting our Republican ticket.”
Another call was made by Sharon Maroni, coordinator for the Chicago election judge program. Sources told the Sun-Times that Parrilli and Maroni were working together, but neither have been accused of any wrongdoing.
Cook County Republican Chairman Aaron Del Mar told the Sun-Times the party was not involved in the robocalls or the fraudulent activities. “Anything they did, they acted alone,” he said.
The state’s attorney’s office told ThinkProgress that an investigation is ongoing, but declined to comment on any details. Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen also said he is not commenting on the pending investigation.
Two election judges also told CBS Chicago that they were removed from their positions as committeemen with the Republican Party because they questioned the validity of the phone calls and whether election judges should be pressured to vote for a particular party.
Other issues including confusion over a new state program allowing same day registration at some polling places also contributed to the long lines that drove voters away. Lower turnout in Chicago favored Republican governor Bruce Rauner, who ended the night with a nearly five-point lead over incumbent Governor Pat Quinn.