Ex-Glendale Heights president, candidate ask DuPage court to overturn April's election
Former Glendale Heights Village President Linda Jackson and Mike Ontiveroz - a candidate who lost his bid to become president by only two votes - have filed separate lawsuits seeking to overturn the outcome of April's election.
Chodhri Ma Khokhar narrowly defeated Ontiveroz in the race to become Glendale Heights' next village president. The final vote total showed Khokhar with 475 votes and Ontiveroz with 473.
Meanwhile, votes cast for Jackson weren't counted because the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the longtime incumbent was ineligible to be a candidate just four days before the April 6 election.
Jackson, who had served as village president since 1999, initially filed a federal lawsuit. Ontiveroz sought and received a partial recount.
Now both of them are suing DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek. Jackson and two voters filed a lawsuit in DuPage court on May 26. Ontiveroz filed his lawsuit the next day.
The clerk will fight both lawsuits, according to Patrick Bond, the attorney representing the office.
Jackson and the two voters are seeking to have the election declared invalid.
Their lawsuit claims Kaczmarek violated their constitutional rights when she refused to honor Jackson's declaration as a write-in candidate. Jackson submitted her declaration on April 2 - the same day the high court issued its ruling that she did not have enough signatures on her nominating petitions to be a candidate.
The complaint says a state election law is unconstitutional - an argument Jackson makes in her federal lawsuit, which is still pending.
In addition, the lawsuit against Kaczmarek says Jackson supporters who attended the partial recount for Ontiveroz saw that at least 136 voters cast write-in votes. The complaint is asking a judge to order a full recount of all votes cast, including any for Jackson, and to order a new election.
"The clerk was following a (state) supreme court order (regarding votes cast for Jackson)," Bond said. "The clerk could not allow her to be a write-in under Illinois law."
Jackson's attorney could not be reached for comment.
As part of his lawsuit, Ontiveroz wants a judge to throw out the results of the election and declare him the winner. He also requests a full recount of the election.
In his petition, Ontiveroz argues that Jackson conducted a "willful and malicious" campaign to "mislead and deceive in-person voters" at polling places in Glendale Heights on Election Day.
Despite the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling, the clerk's office in DuPage was unable to remove the names of Jackson and another ineligible candidate - Ed Pope - from the ballot. The lawsuit says Jackson and her supporters gave voters written instructions on how to cast write-in votes for Jackson.
The lawsuit also argues that Kaczmarek's office made mistakes in how it handled some mail-in ballots, that election judges didn't initial some ballots, that assisted votes didn't have required affidavits, and that ineligible voters' votes were counted.
The errors were discovered during the partial recount. Ontiveroz believes more errors would be found in a full recount, according to the lawsuit.
"The election process is not a precise process, down to one or two votes," Andrew Finko, the attorney representing Ontiveroz, said Friday. "We are just trying to verify with a little bit more precision the results of the election."
But Bond said, "The clerk is confident all of the properly cast ballots were tabulated."