Election judge robocall flap exaggerated, GOP ward leaders say

SHARE Election judge robocall flap exaggerated, GOP ward leaders say

Chicago Republican ward committeemen cast doubt Tuesday on whether controversial robocalls to election judges were as disruptive to last week’s voting as has been portrayed.

Most committeemen I contacted by telephone said they were aware of no more judge absenteeism in their wards than is normal on Election Day. 

And what problems there were may have been caused as much by a pre-election push from Cook County Republican officials to dump election judges of questionable GOP allegiance than by the automated phone messages.

I mention this not to excuse the robocalls or robocallers, whose little exercise served no legitimate purpose from what I can tell and only managed to sow confusion.

But the fact is that I have yet to hear from any election judges who confirm they stayed home Tuesday because they were scared off or otherwise deterred by the deceptive messages.

To be clear, I actually believe there are such people out there, and I would love to hear from them, as well as from any voters who missed out on voting because of an understaffed polling place.

But until then, it’s probably wise to tamp down the growing Democratic narrative that the robocalls resulted in some massive disruption that altered the election. 

Obviously, if even one person missed their opportunity to vote Tuesday because of a shortage of election judges related to somebody’s political mischief, then that bears investigating—and perhaps punishment.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has opened an investigation, and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners says it has turned over all its materials on the matter.

On Sunday, I reported that the robocalls in question were made by James “Jim” Parrilli, the 19th Ward Republican committeeman and an unsuccessful candidate for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

In the calls to Republican election judges, Parrilli identifies himself variously as “your Chicago election judge coordinator” or “Cook County election judge coordinator,” an official-sounding title that he seems to have given himself. 

In the calls, Parrilli invites the election judges on short notice to a “training session,” then provides two faulty addresses for the meetings. I’m told at least one session was held.

The Board of Election Commissioners says it was bombarded with calls from confused judges seeking clarification about their responsibilities.

Parrilli has lawyered up and won’t take my calls, which is a shame. I’d still love to get to the bottom of this.

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