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Jay Travis Won't Concede in 26th District Race

By Sam Cholke | March 19, 2014 1:02pm | Updated on March 19, 2014 4:12pm
 Jay Travis is not conceding the Democratic primary race for the 26th District to Christian Mitchell after poll watchers reported irregularities on Election Day.
Jay Travis is not conceding the Democratic primary race for the 26th District to Christian Mitchell after poll watchers reported irregularities on Election Day.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

KENWOOD — Jay Travis is not conceding victory to Christian Mitchell in the Democratic primary for the 26th District race for state representative.

"I'm just let down by the tactics used yesterday to disenfranchise voters," Travis said.

As of Wednesday morning, Mitchell had a 477-vote lead on Travis in the primary with all the precincts reported.

Mitchell has claimed victory in the primary, but Travis is not ready to give it to him.

The Travis campaign reported multiple problems at polling places, including incorrect vote totals, polls turning away voters and other issues.

Travis said she was turned away from her own polling place at 6 a.m. Tuesday because the voting machines were not set up. She was asked to come back in an hour, she said.

A poll watcher for the Travis campaign, Jesse Sharkey, reported that voters were being given the wrong ballot at 4 p.m. at ABJ Community Services, 1818 E. 71st St.

Travis poll watchers at three precincts said they were given final vote tallies that read zero across the board, making it impossible for them to compare the numbers they saw at the polls with what was reported to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Travis campaign officials also claimed that one of their poll watchers saw Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) campaigning at a voting site, but the poll watcher couldn't be reached to confirm the claim.

Dowell strongly denied the claim, which would constitute a violation of election law, saying, “Jay Travis is a sore loser and a desperate losing candidate. Her accusations are preposterous.”

She added: "I respect the voting process and I would never do electioneering at the polling place — that's illegal."

The city's Board of Election Commissioners reported no major problems that would have prevented voters from casting their ballot in the 26th District.

“We had only minor complaints from precincts all across the city,” said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Board of Election Commissioners.

Poll workers at several sites where the Travis campaign reported problems acknowledged there were issues, but attributed them to new people running the site who were poorly trained. None reported turning away voters.

Mitchell declined to comment on Travis’ claims of problems at the polling place.

He said he was “feeling good,” and would officially claim victory without Travis’ concession Wednesday afternoon.

In a campaign that pivoted on education issues, Travis was backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, and Mitchell received considerable support from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and national advocacy groups promoting charter schools.

Coby Hakalir, the Republican candidate in the 26th District race, acknowledged Mitchell’s victory and said he looked forward to facing him in the general election.

Hakalir was unchallenged in the Republican primary.

Travis said she would concede when provisional ballots were counted and the problems at the polls were properly investigated.

“I don’t think there was definitive action by the committeemen to make sure the problems were rectified,” Travis said.