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Election hotline handles 60 complaints

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 5:30 a.m. CDT

Of the 60 complaints the Kane County State’s Attorney’s election hotline recorded on Nov. 2, 12 were about an organization and restaurant offering free meals or discounts to voters.

Such offers were in violation of Illinois’ vote buying statute. It states, “Any person who knowingly gives, lends or promises to give or lend any money or other valuable consideration to any other person to influence such other person to vote or to register to vote or to influence such other person to vote for or against any candidate or public question to be voted upon at any election shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.”

Building a Better Batavia, which advocated for the passage of the Batavia Park District’s referendum, attached coupons to its literature for free spaghetti dinners to anyone who voted, State’s Attorney John Barsanti said. Meanwhile, Houlihan’s in Geneva Commons reportedly offered a $10 discount to customers with a voter receipt, Barsanti said.

Barsanti did not pursue charges against the organization or restaurant because, he said, their situations seemed to stem more from a lack of understanding of the law than from an intent to influence voters.

“It was clear to me there was no intent to influence anybody,” Barsanti said.

To help rectify the situation, Barsanti said, Building a Better Batavia opened its offer to everyone, and Houlihan’s gave the discount to anyone who mentioned it.

A police report has been filed in connection to a complaint of attempted voter fraud in Batavia, Barsanti said, noting the case is under review.

Betsy Flood, assistant state’s attorney in the civil division, said two people obtained a provisional ballot after signing an affidavit stating they hadn’t voted when, in actuality, they had.

Immediately after casting the ballots, she said, they told the election judge they had voted absentee.

Barsanti said he believes they were trying to make a point or test the system since they admitted to their actions. Their signing the affidavit would be perjury, he said.

The hotline also recorded 14 complaints about electioneering, which dealt with where people could campaign in relation to a polling place.

Complaints about other issues – poll watchers, voter confusion regarding ballot style, identification issues, wrong ballots, absentee ballots, bilingual ballots and crowded voter centers, for example – each received fewer than five calls, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

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