The Cook County Clerk’s Office said it will still use its normal procedures to process early and absentee voting for the upcoming election after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently released an opinion about vote counting. Madigan’s statement, issued Oct. 15, said that ballots collected through early voting and absentee balloting cannot be counted before election polls close at 7 p.m. Nov. 4. Specifically, the opinion said that running the ballots through tabulating equipment is a form of counting. Natalie Bauer, Illinois Attorney General communications director, said the decision was released to clarify election laws because of procedural questions some election officials had asked. Cook County Clerk spokesperson Courtney Greve said the clerk’s office believes its normal process of compiling early ballots complies with the law and Madigan’s opinion.
With less than two weeks until Illinois’ high-stakes elections, an attorney general opinion has some officials rethinking vote-counting procedures in ways that they say could cause big delays in announcing results. Elections officials across the state Thursday were weighing a recent ruling from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who wrote that state law prohibits vote-counting before the 7 p.m. close of polls Nov. 4, including simple tabulating to facilitate prompt reporting of results later. Depending on how strictly the ruling is interpreted, it could be the wee hours of Nov. 5 before results are reported, including in the up-for-grabs race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner. Separately Thursday, in Rock Island County, Republicans filed a lawsuit against the Democratic county clerk alleging that mail-in votes are being opened early and that poll-watchers are prohibited from observing early voting.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is taking up a complaint filed by the Libertarian Party candidate that voter intimidation tactics were used by Republicans in an attempt to kick the party off the ballot. The allegation includes a gun-toting private investigator that paid house visits to verify petitions. The AG’s office confirmed a verbal complaint was made with the public integrity unit. The office is looking into the matter, a spokeswoman said. Early & Often columnist Dan Mihalopoulos was the first to report that private investigators were armed with guns while working for the Republican effort to remove the Libertarians from the November ballot.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office will drop its defense of a controversial plan to take election-running powers from the Lake County clerk and create a new government commission instead. A lower court had previously struck down part of a law that would create the new government, and Madigan’s office appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court because the attorney general is responsible for defending state laws. Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said Thursday the office would drop that appeal.