JEFFERSON PARK — A candidate for alderman in the 45th Ward may have violated state law by offering voters 10 percent discounts at local restaurants and businesses in return for casting a ballot, officials said.
John Garrido, who is one of three candidates challenging Ald. John Arena's bid for re-election, posted an offer on his Facebook page Friday urging voters to bring their voting receipts to receive 10 percent off their purchase from 12 local businesses.
However, the election code says any person who "knowingly gives, lends or promises to give or lend any money or other valuable consideration" to anyone else in an effort to get them to cast a vote is guilty of a class-four felony.
Garrido, a Chicago police lieutenant, said Friday evening he was not aware that the offer violated state law, but wanted to find a "cool way to promote local businesses" and encourage people to vote.
The offer required customers to present their voting receipt, which does not indicate whom they voted for in the election.
"I didn't think it was illegal," Garrido said. "I guess I should have researched it more."
Garrido removed the discount offer from his Facebook page Friday evening after being contacted by DNAinfo Chicago.
Garrido said he asked local businesses to participate in the effort after seeing an offer from Uber for free rides to polling places in the 2012 presidential election and similar offers from local businesses in previous years.
The flier promoting the offer has a "Garrido Means Business" banner across the top and touts Garrido's position as a director on the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce board of directors and his 2012 and 2014 Man of the Year awards from the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce.
It also urges voters to punch No. 51 — Garrido's ballot position.
Garrido said he asked the businesses involved — 4 Hermanos, Battery Giant, Cafe Marbella Tapas, Fantasy Costumes, Gen-Ki Karate Instructors, H & B True Value, Mom’s Old Recipe, Pasta D'Arte Trattoria Italiana, Portage Theater, the Garage Bar & Sandwiches, The UPS Store and Tuxpan Mexican Grill — to participate.
Garrido said he did not think anyone had received the discount.
Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said Friday he did not know if a complaint had been filed about Garrido's offer, and could not comment on the specific incident.
However, Allen said the board of elections has to tell "well-intentioned" people and groups during every election that you "can't offer people anything of value to vote" under state law. In the fall, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) went on Facebook to offer gift cards to people who voted but then removed the post after she was questioned about it.
Garrido lost to Arena by 30 votes in 2011.
Also in the 45th Ward race are state of Illinois attorney Michael Diaz and Michelle Baert, who publishes a website of family-friendly activities.
Early voting is available through Feb. 21 throughout the Far Northwest Side.
If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote on Feb. 24, the top two vote-getters will square off in a runoff on April 7.
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