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Chicago Election Will Be Fair Despite Trump's Claims, Officials Promise

By Heather Cherone | October 18, 2016 4:43pm | Updated on October 18, 2016 4:44pm
 A Chicago resident casts a vote.
A Chicago resident casts a vote.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

CITY HALL — The Nov. 8 election in Chicago will be fair — despite baseless claims made by Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump, Chicago elections officials said Tuesday.

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen told a City Council committee considering the department's budget that there was "no threat" of hackers getting into election registration databases in an attempt to rig the election.

Those databases are not hooked up to the Internet in an effort to "mitigate the risk of any kind of hack," Allen said in response to a question from Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson.

During the last week, Trump has claimed — without providing any evidence — that he believes the election will be rigged against him to ensure the election of Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump has also urged his supporters to "monitor" polls in primarily African American neighborhoods of cities like Chicago to guard against voter fraud, which he inaccurately called "very, very" common.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned that Trump's meritless claims could hurt faith in the country's political systems, and called on the businessman turned politician to "stop whining."

In August, Illinois elections officials said personal information from approximately 200,000 voters was hacked through a cyberattack of possible foreign origin.

However, rolls of Chicago voters were not impacted by that attack because the two databases are not connected, Allen said.

While cautioning that "no system is foolproof" and vowing to investigate all allegations of wrongdoing, Allen said it would be very unlikely a ballot could be changed after it is cast and verified by the voter.

Every electronic ballot cast in Chicago has a "paper trail" that serves as the official record for that ballot, Allen said, calling that provision a "fail safe."

During the last decade, Chicago elections officials have counted approximately 10 million ballots, Allen said.

In that same period, 10 suspected incidents of voter fraud have been referred to the State Attorney's office for investigation, Allen said.

In addition, the board of elections has conducted recounts of tens of thousands ballots and not one vote has been found to be in error, Allen said.

However, Allen acknowledged that elections in Chicago take place under "intense scrutiny," given the city's history of presidential election fraud dating back to the early 1900s, when allegations that dead Chicagoans cast ballots surfaced along with claims that city workers voted "early and often" for machine-backed candidates.

"The times have changed, the technology has changed," Allen said.

Electronic poll books prevent voters from casting more than one ballot and cross check death records, Allen said.

"This is not a Chicago election in the era of your parents or grandparents," Allen said.

Allen declined to directly respond to Trump's statements, but called on the news media to vet allegations of fraud before reporting them uncritically.

"At a minimum, I would hope that there would be some evidence or something to back it up before those sort of claims are made," Allen said.

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