SUGAR GROVE – Action on Jim Oberweis’ petition to overturn his Nov. 3 election loss to incumbent 14th District Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, likely will be taken by the end of the week, his campaign spokesman, Travis Akin, said.
Oberweis filed his petition Jan. 4, seeking a new election, the day after Underwood was sworn in and seated in the House of Representatives.
The certified election results showed Underwood with 203,209 votes to Oberweis’ 197,835, a difference of 5,374 votes.
In a news release when he filed his petition, Oberweis alleged that there were enough illegal votes to give him the victory by 9,374 votes in the 14th District. His assertions were based on results of discovery recounts and other sources.
“The documentation we provided Congress today shows numerous irregularities. And when the proportional reductions in each of our vote totals are applied, there is no question I won the race for Congress,” Oberweis said in the release.
Underwood spokeswoman Andra Belknap did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, but had dismissed Oberweis’ maneuver as “legal bluster” after he had first announced it.
“The results of this election will not change,” Belknap said at the time. “Congresswoman Underwood was sworn into the 117th Congress on Jan. 3 and remains focused on the work the people of the 14th District elected her to do.”
The 14th Congressional District includes portions of Lake, McHenry, Kane, DeKalb, Kendall, DuPage and Will counties.
Akin said the House Administrative Committee has 30 days to respond to Oberweis’ petition for an election do-over.
“They still have a few days,” Akin said. “We expect to see some definitive action later this week.”
There are three possible options, the most likely being that it would be dismissed, as Democrats are the majority on that committee, Akin said.
Another scenario would be for the committee to open an investigation in which it would act like a court, hear both sides and make a recommendation to the House floor, Akin said.
“They could decide there is sufficient evidence to make a positive recommendation to the floor to have another election. Then the full House would have to vote on it and approve it,” Akin said.
Because Democrats are the majority in the House, it’s unlikely, if it got that far, that they would decide a new election is in order, he said.
“It’s an uphill challenge,” Akin said.
Not only is the House committee expected to respond by the end of the week, Oberweis still is waiting for a response from Underwood regarding his petition, Akin said.
Even if Oberweis’ petition is dismissed, Akin said election irregularities should be addressed legislatively.
“I think there are definitely some issues,” Akin said. “It’s a value judgment whether those issues would change the outcome, but that’s not the point. The point is, we have tremendous flaws in how elections are presented. People need some assurance that their votes are being counted properly and that elections are handled properly. It’s an important part of who we are as a country. These elections are an important aspect of living in a free society.”
And the first thing that should go?
“We should do away with this early voting nonsense and vote on voting day,” Akin said. “And do away with ballot harvesting that makes it easier for people to find ways to circumvent the system.”
Ballot harvesting is where a third party can deliver completed absentee or mail-in ballots, rather than submission by the voters themselves directly to ballot collection sites.
“We should take a hard look at what works and what doesn’t,” Akin said. “I think we should dial it back in some respects so that people are not invited to take advantage of the situation.”
Akin said requirements should be consistent across all Illinois counties.
“If the rules are different in one location versus another in a statewide election, people naturally are going to question the results, especially when elections are close,” Akin said.