Allegations such as voters being offered pizza coupons and campaign workers insisting on handling mail-in ballots for town residents have sprung up in Cicero as the heated race for town president heads into its final week. The Cook County clerk’s office has notified law enforcement officials, including the state’s attorney’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice, of such allegations and other claims of voter intimidation and voter fraud in the western suburb. Incumbent Larry Dominick is seeking his third term as town president. He will face former McPier executive Juan Ochoa and former town senior services director Joe Pontarelli next Tuesday. “The state’s attorney is out there (in Cicero) this week interviewing people about the allegations,” Cook County Clerk David Orr said Monday at a news conference. Orr said his office has gotten several complaints from voters. He said he is disturbed about town employees in uniforms who are allegedly campaigning and knocking on doors.
“The impact of that is clearly seen by some voters as voter suppression and intimidation,” Orr said. “If a town official comes to your door and you’re not necessarily supporting a (certain) candidate, that clearly can be seen as intimidation.”
In a letter to town attorney Michael Del Galdo, Orr wrote, “You and your clients are entitled to gather information regarding any aspect of an election, but no campaign is entitled to use the resources of the town in the process.”
Orr said he also was upset that Cicero Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias allegedly told a group of senior citizens to deliver their mail-in ballots to her office instead of mailing them to or dropping them off at Orr’s office. Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for Orr, said an official from the state’s attorney’s office heard Punzo-Arias make the comment at a recent town-sponsored Valentine’s Day party.