LaSalle County, IL. (ECWd) -
The LaSalle County Republican Central Committee has filed for an Emergency Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction against the LaSalle County Clerk, Lori Bongartz, in her Official Capacity, asking the Court to restrain Defendant from continuing to count and process mail in ballots and from certifying the 2020 LaSalle County election results.
At issue are the results in the State's Attorney and State Representative contests.
The Emergency TRO Hearing is set for Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Hettel.
On October 30, 2020, it was learned that all three election judges had contracted COVID-19 and they immediately ceased operations. However, the processing of mail-in ballots continued without the statutorily required election judges or replacements present.
A witness observed an employee of the Clerk's office opening mail-in ballots at her desk without election judges present and without verifying any signatures before processing them.
It was also observed that ballots were removed from their envelopes before proper processing, unsecured mail in ballots were received without any chain of custody, and Defendant instructed workers to process the mail in ballots without the supervision and oversite of election judges.
Plaintiffs also ask to commence immediate discovery, for a protective order issuance, and a Declaratory Judgment that Defendant acted outside her scope of authority when she processed mail in ballots without proper oversight of the election judges.
As supporting information, the Plaintiffs allege that "The November 2020 general election in LaSalle County, Illinois lacked both accuracy and integrity. Election officials, including the Defendant, processed mail in ballots without the presence of election judges as statutorily required, voting tabulating machines in certain precincts were inoperable and required to be rebooted, election judges at the various precincts did not compare the
signatures of in person voters with their registration, voters who had previously voted by mail were told at the polls that they would be eligible to vote on election day, no election judges were allowed to watch recounting of ballots at a collection site (Celebrations), and poll watchers at certain precincts were not allowed to watch a "recount" of nearly 700 ballots."
The complaint alleges:
- As part of those newly-adopted [Legislative] rules and legislation, the election authority (Bongartz) was required to appoint a bipartisan panel of three election judges to verify voter signatures and the validity of the actual ballot
- On October 30, 2020, it was discovered that all election judges working with the processing of the mail-in ballots had contracted COVID-19 and they immediately ceased their operations
- Thereafter, there were no election judges present to process the mail in ballots received by the County Clerk for the period of October 31 through and including November 3, nor was any member of Plaintiff committee advised of the absence of the election judges or the need to replace the absent judges
- 19. The statutory language of the Election Code is mandatory and not discretionary that there shall be election judges present from each party to process mail in ballots. However, by the County Clerk's own admission, there were no election judges present during this time and the mail-in ballots were processed by members of the Clerk's staff
- Defendant had no authority to process these ballots without review by election judges duly appointed and sworn under oath
- Neither Defendant nor any election officials verified the signatures of all absentee ballots before processing
- Ballots were removed from their envelopes before proper processing
- Unsecured mail in ballots were received without any chain of custody
- Defendant instructed workers in her office to process the mail in ballots without the supervision or oversight of election judges
- Defendant's above actions were in violation of the Illinois Election Code and Plaintiff's constitutional rights