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Raila says assessor’s race ‘tainted,’ wants federal investigation

“There needs to be an investigation at the federal level," Raila said. "No candidate should ever have to go through what I had to go through — starting with a fake petition challenge — that erupted into slanderous allegations in the media that were used by my opponent." | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Andrea Raila, the on-again/off-again challenger in the Democratic race for assessor, railed against election officials Tuesday after some voters were told that votes cast for her would not count in spite of an appellate court ruling to the contrary.

Now Raila is calling for a federal investigation into the hotly contested assessor’s race before the polls even close.

“The entire election day, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., has been tainted with bad information,” Raila said.

Raila’s attorney had already suggested he would demand a special election after authorities bounced her on and off the ballot based on an alleged pattern of fraud in her nominating petitions. A Cook County judge last month upheld the county electoral board’s order to remove Raila from the ballot. Then, last week, the appellate court ruled that votes cast for Raila would count.

However, Raila’s campaign said it received complaints throughout the day Tuesday — and as recently as late afternoon — from voters who said they were told a vote for Raila would not count.

Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, acknowledged the error. He said a text had been pre-programmed to go out to judges after the initial ruling keeping Raila off the ballot. The text was a reminder to pass out green and white notices indicating that Raila and Democratic clerk candidate Jan Kowalski McDonald had been removed from the ballot.

Allen said county officials forgot to cancel the text after the appellate court overruled the initial ruling.

“We subsequently to that sent out six different text messages saying ‘Do not hand out the green and white notices,’” Allen said.

He said a different black and white notice should have been handed out that referred only to McDonald’s removal from the ballot.

The campaign of Fritz Kaegi minimized the issue in a statement that said, “we have heard that this error has taken place and affected a small number of precincts, and the Chicago Board of Elections has been proactive in addressing concerns.”

The campaign of Assessor Joe Berrios declined to comment.