What GOP Senate hopefuls vying to run against Duckworth say about election integrity

Only one of the seven Republican candidates vying for the party's nomination to run against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth in November said he doesn't believe the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from former President Donald Trump.

Anthony Williams, a pastor from Chicago, said curbing violence and a return to civility were the driving forces behind his campaign.

When asked during a candidate forum Wednesday with members of the Daily Herald editorial board about the state of election integrity in Illinois and nationally, Williams was brief in his assessment.

"No, I do not believe the election was stolen," he said. "That's my answer."

Though allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election were not substantiated, other candidates - including Chicagoan Jimmy Lee Tillman II - disagree with Williams.

"In our country, here in Chicago, there's always been a history of shadiness," Tillman said. "Here in Chicago, dead people vote, that's not no joke, it's a fact. I can say the election was stolen and I don't believe Joe Biden is president."

Candidate Robert "Bobby" Piton of Geneva also said "the 2020 election was absolutely stolen."

Piton said he plans to release a report next month that he claims shows widespread election fraud throughout Illinois as well.

Piton also said every election should be audited. He believes property owners should have to include the names of all registered voters living in those homes on property tax bills and that failure to do so should result in a fine starting at $10,000 and then escalating for "subsequent violations."

Piton also wants to depoliticize elections by putting military veterans, retired police and retired firefighters in charge of elections, he said.

The other four candidates did not answer specifically if they believed the election was stolen or if the results were valid. Instead, they spoke about election integrity.

Peggy Hubbard of Belleville said she had personally witnessed election fraud working in downstate St. Clair County. She believes in a voter ID requirement to submit ballots.

"I need to have an ID to drive a car, an endorsement for a motorcycle, an ID to open up a bank account, get a job, join the military, buy alcohol or buy a house, it stands to reason that we do need some form of voter ID and voter integrity," she said. "I know they cheat, because I (have) seen it firsthand."

Candidate Matt Dubiel of Naperville also supports some form of voter ID to cast ballots.

"I have to have two pieces of identification in order to carry my Glock," he said. "I have to have a (firearm owners identification) card in Illinois and I have to have a concealed carry card in Illinois, but you don't have to show any identification to vote. And you could make the argument that a vote is way more important and way more dangerous."

Candidate Casey Chlebek of Lake Forest also wants a return to a single day of voting.

"Only in very unusual situations should mail-in voting be allowed because that's where difficulty comes in and that's where you invite fraud," he said.

Chlebek said the focus shouldn't be on what happened in 2020, but on the integrity of future elections to "concentrate on improving the election process so it never happens."

Candidate Kathy Salvi of Mundelein said she "will fight to ensure every vote counts" if elected in November, but stopped short of saying election fraud contributed to President Biden's victory in 2020.

"Well, Joe Biden is our president," she said. "I wish we had a different leader who could meet this moment, but we don't. That's why we need a U.S. Senator who will be a check not a rubber stamp on President Biden's policies."

Republican voters will decide June 28 who will face Duckworth in November.

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