State’s Attorney outlines plans to monitor Tuesday’s Election Day activities

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With a significant number of candidates on the ballot in Tuesday’s mayoral and aldermanic elections and anticipating a high volume of Election Day complaints and inquiries, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will be stepping up efforts to ensure that proper procedures are being followed and election laws are not being violated, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced.

The State’s Attorney’s Election Fraud Unit has already been fielding a high rate of complaints and general advice calls, particularly during the early voting process, according to Alvarez. With approximately 250 candidates on the ballot Tuesday and a hotly contested race for mayor, authorities believe that election activity could be at an all time high in Chicago.

“There are a significant number of contested races on Tuesday and we understand that when a large number of candidates are competing in close local races that tensions may run high,” Alvarez said.

“But there will be zero tolerance for any type of illegal election activity or political mischief. We have the authority to arrest and charge any person who violates election laws and we will not hesitate to exercise that authory.”

The State’s Attorney’s Office will be stepping up efforts to visit polling places to confirm that proper procedures are being followed and taking complaints and investigating election infractions. As part of the plan the office will:

     * Assign 200 Assistant State’s Attorneys to on-the-ground Election Day duty in all of

       Chicago’s 50 wards.

     * Operate an Election Day Central Intake and Dispatch Center to accept and assess

        complaints for referral to election authorities, law enforcement or campaigns. Election

       Hotline Number is 312-603-7960.

     * Have Rapid Response Teams made up of State’s Attorney Investigators and ASA’s available

        to respond to calls that are urgent and require immediate attention.

     * Assign an additional 80 State’s Attorney employees (40 investigators; 40 ASA’s) for

        special election monitoring at Chicago nursing homes. Nursing home voting took place

        this past Friday and Saturday and will conclude on Monday (February 21, 2011).

Alvarez said law enforcement would respond to any issues with poll watchers and potential crimes in polling places, particularly in ward races with multiple candidates. Authorities will be on high alert for any disregard of election authority, attempts at vote buying, tampering with voting machines, unlawful observation of voting or improper assistance in the voting processs.

“It is our hope that all of the citizens of Chicago will take the opportunity to exercise their right to vote on Tuesday and the men and women of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will be on hand to ensure that the process is fair, respectful and nonviolent,” Alvarez said.

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