Alleging voting irregularities, state Sen. Jim Oberweis contests Rep. Lauren Underwood’s reelection in U.S. House

Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune

In a long-shot bid to overturn U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s reelection, state Sen. Jim Oberweis has filed a notice of contest with the U.S. House seeking a new election, alleging irregularities found in a discovery recount of the Nov. 3 results would make him the winner.

Underwood, a Democrat from Naperville, was certified the winner of the race in the west and northwest exurban 14th Congressional District over Oberweis, a Republican from Sugar Grove, by 5,374 votes out of 401,052 ballots cast.

Oberweis launched a discovery, partial recount in the seven counties that make up the congressional district shortly before the vote results were certified by the State Board of Elections on Dec. 4.

“I do not believe we found any rampant fraud, but what we found is election jurisdictions around the 14th District not following the law, which led to an inability to verify that only those who were legally entitled to vote actually voted,” Oberweis said in a statement.

Underwood was inaugurated and seated Sunday to her second term in the House.

Ultimately, the U.S. Constitution gives the House, which is controlled by Democrats, the right to judge the “elections, returns and qualifications” of its members, and its determination cannot be challenged in court.

Previous House contest reports have established that the challenger faces a “substantial” burden of proof to persuade the House to take action that would amount to “rejecting the certified returns of a state and calling into doubt the entire electoral process,” the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has said.

Oberweis listed several alleged irregularities and contended the nearly 40,000 vote-by-mail ballots cast in Kane County in the race were illegal because they were not initialed by election judges. But Kane County uses electronic poll books to record election judges signatures, so they do not appear on the ballot.

Andra Belknap, an Underwood campaign spokeswoman, dismissed Oberweis’ challenge.

“Regardless of Mr. Oberweis’ legal bluster, the results of this election will not change. Congresswoman Underwood was sworn into the 117th Congress on Jan. 3rd and remains focused on the work the people of the 14th District elected her to do.”

Oberweis’ formal contest challenge goes to the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Administration, which will review his documents and make a recommendation to the full House.

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