Investigation into Lake Co. voter fraud expands
The investigation into the filing of fake voter registration cards in advance of the 2008 fall elections is expanding, a Lake County prosecutor said Tuesday.
Assistant State's Attorney Christen Bishop obtained a subpoena for additional handwriting examples from a Chicago woman already charged with filing 10 such cards.
Jeannette Sims, 47, was charged with mutilation of election materials last year after officials said she had filled out the registration cards herself and used false addresses.
Tuesday, Bishop told Circuit Judge Fred Foreman the handwriting expert who linked Sims to the cards needed further samples of Sims' handwriting to make comparisons with some other cards.
"We have approximately 20 cards that require further examination," Bishop said. "If we are able to make a positive match with any of those cards and the defendant, additional charges are possible."
All of the cards in question were among approximately 1,000 cards officials in the Lake County clerk's office deemed suspicious after they were filed in the weeks leading up to the 2008 general election.
Many of the registration cards were submitted with addresses in the county that do not exist, while others bore the names of people who did not live at the addresses listed on the cards.
All of those cards were filed as a result of a registration drive sponsored by the Service Employees International Union. Sims was a volunteer in that drive.
Bishop said union officials have fully cooperated in the investigation and are not believed to be a part of any fraudulent scheme.
Sims' attorney, Robert Loeb of Chicago, told Foreman his client could not be in court Tuesday because she is recovering from brain surgery, but would provide the additional samples if ordered to do so.
Foreman granted Bishop's request for the additional handwriting examples and scheduled another hearing in the case for Aug. 3.
Sims is scheduled to go to trial on the existing charges Aug. 23, and faces a sentence ranging from probation to three years in prison if convicted.