Utica: 12 have withdrawn their voter registration after investigation confirmation

Clerk says some Grand Bear residents have asked to be de-listed

Last week, there were 74 recently-registered voters in Utica, most of them from the vacation homes at Grand Bear Resort at Starved Rock.

By the end of the business day Monday, that figure had been whittled down to 62. La Salle County Clerk Lori Bongartz said she received a series of emails from the newly registered asking her to take them off the voter rolls.

The explanation Bongartz got? “Just that they were moving out of town,” she said.

The shrinking voter tally comes on the heels of a Shaw Media report the vacation home residents, most of them from the Chicago area, had signed up to vote in Utica’s mayoral race on April 6.

Under the Illinois Compiled Statutes, to register to vote a person must complete an affidavit affirming they have resided within the electoral district for 30 days prior to the election. Falsely completing those affidavits is a criminal offense and La Salle County State’s Attorney Todd Martin said he was aware of the spate of new registrations but, “I cannot comment on a pending investigation.”

A dozen Grand Bear unit owners have since opted not to participate in the mayoral contest between incumbent David Stewart and Tracy Mix, a Grand Bear unit owner himself.

As previously reported, a retired forensic accountant who owns a Grand Bear unit took note when her neighbors began registering to vote in La Salle County, alleging they were not full-time village residents. In one instance, 10 people who registered as Utica residents listed the same unit number at the Grand Bear vacation homes.

“I do think it’s an attempt to get him [Mix] in,” said Helene Seltzer.

Mix has so far ignored requests for comment.

Utica’s last mayoral race drew 439 voters – 33.5% turnout – which is low for Utica. The number of new voters at one point equaled 17% of all who voted in Utica’s last mayoral race, won by Stewart, in 2017.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.