Voter intimidation? Or rough-and-tumble politics, Addison Township style?
DuPage County Democrats are accusing a Republican precinct committeeman from Addison Township of Election Day chicanery.
Democratic operatives took pictures Tuesday of Lawrence Moretti near a polling place at 848 N. Mill Road in Addison wearing a black jacket and a blue cap with bright yellow letters emblazoned with the letters "ICE," the logo of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
"First of all, that polling place is located in a heavily Hispanic area," said DuPage Democratic Party Chairman Bob Peickert. "He had choices between hats that he could have put on his head and he chose one that could lead someone to conclude he was a law enforcement officer. What motivates him to stand out in front of that place if for no other reason than to intimidate?"
Addison Township Republican Party Chairman Pat Durante called the accusation "baloney."
"We were almost a block away," Durante said. "No voters complained. You got a complaint from a Democratic committeeman and the Democratic chairman. There was no voter ever intimidated. I rest my case."
Moretti did not return calls seeking comment.
Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Gail Montenegro confirmed Moretti is not employed by the immigration agency or by the Homeland Security Department. She said it was not illegal for Moretti to wear the hat.
Moretti had signed in at 6 a.m. Tuesday at the polling site as a credentialed Republican poll watcher. He signed out at 7 p.m., according to DuPage Election Commission records.
Doreen Nelson, the commission's assistant executive director, said her office received a complaint about Moretti electioneering within 100 feet of the polling place. However, when commission officials went to the site to validate the claim, they couldn't locate Moretti. Nelson said there is no dress code for poll watchers other than they can't wear clothes or items that support candidates, issues being voted on or a political party. She said commission officials would not have required Moretti to remove his hat if they had located him.
Peickert said Democratic Party operatives saw Moretti leave the polling site about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and return around 4 p.m. with a new hat featuring a logo for the National Rifle Association.
"He wasn't a poll watcher, because he wasn't watching any polls," Peickert said. "He stood outside the entire time he was there. Why does anyone stand outside a polling place with an ICE hat on if he's not distributing literature?"
Peickert conceded that anyone who was registered to vote should have no fear of an immigration officer, but he couldn't predict "what was anyone's mind" when they saw that logo.
Durante counted, "What a joke. You want a real crime? The Democrats stuck 200 pieces of campaign literature inside mailboxes throughout an Addison precinct. I didn't complain about that, but I think I will now."