DOWNTOWN — A 33rd Ward challenger to Ald. Deb Mell has filed suit against the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners charging electioneering and mishandling of ballots by the Mell camp and seeking a recount.
Attorneys Richard Means and Andrew Finko filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday on behalf of Tim Meegan, a Roosevelt High School teacher who ran second to Mell in last week's election.
As cited in the suit, original returns had Mell failing to gain a majority, setting up a runoff with Meegan on April 7. But last Friday the board released new figures showing Mell had topped 50 percent by two votes.
In the latest results released Tuesday, the board had Mell 14 votes above 50 percent with 4,092 out of 8,156 votes — or 50.17 percent — to 2,776 votes — or 34.04 percent — for Meegan. Annisa Wanant finished third, at this point with 1,288 votes, or 15.79 percent.
The board will not release final figures until March 12, after absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day have had a chance to work their way through the mail.
Mell said Tuesday she had not yet seen the suit and declined to comment on it. "It's just important to me that every single vote be counted," she said.
"I'm doing a little better," Mell said, pointing to the latest count. "I like the direction it's going."
The suit sought expedited discovery ahead of the April 7 runoff and included a laundry list of possible offenses that could be uncovered in a recount. Finko explained Monday the suit had to be filed within a week of the election to set up any subsequent challenges and that he expected it would be "expanded" with new charges as the process continues.
Yet Tuesday's suit specifically charged "mistakes and fraud" and "pervasive electioneering from one candidate," Mell. It also charged that "ballots and electronic vote-counting devices were improperly handled," resulting in "tainted" ballots and an inaccurate vote count.
It also suggested hanky-panky at the St. Paul's Nursing Home, with the suit charging that ballots were "completed by staff."
Although the suit charges the Mell camp with offenses, it is technically filed against the Board of Election Commissioners to clear the way for other procedural challenges.
Board spokesman Jim Allen declined to comment, except to say, "We'll usually reply in court. From there, we'll do whatever the court tells us to do."
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