WASHINGTON – A day after Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., was sworn into her second term, her GOP challenger, Jim Oberweis, announced Monday that after a discovery recount, he is seeking to contest her election.
Now claiming a victory after the discovery recount, Oberweis said he filed a “Notice of Contest” with the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The House Committee on House Administration handles contested election issues.
Underwood beat Oberweis by 5,374 votes in the 14th Congressional District contest, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections vote totals.
Underwood received 203,209, or 50.67% of the vote, to Oberweis, a state senator, getting 197,835, or 49.33%.
When a vote is that close, Illinois law allows a candidate to file a petition asking for a discovery recount. During a discovery recount, the candidate can review the votes in up to 25% of the precincts. The 14th District has 462 precincts in parts of seven counties.
Andra Belknap, Underwood’s campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement, “Regardless of Mr. Oberweis’ legal bluster, the results of this election will not change. Congresswoman Underwood was sworn into the 117th Congress on January 3rd and remains focused on the work the people of the 14th District elected her to do.”
Oberweis is seeking to void all 39,647 Kane County mail ballots, claiming they were not properly initialed by election judges.
Oberweis said in a statement “numerous irregularities were found” in the discovery recount, especially with mail ballots.
“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.
It is not clear why Oberweis, a state senator, did not object to Underwood’s seating before Sunday. He did attend freshmen orientation in Washington, in November, an option open to candidates in elections with unresolved outcomes.
Oberweis filed the Notice of Contest on what is apparently the last day to try to overturn the results.
According to the law, the first step for a candidate “claiming a right” to the office is to file the notice “within thirty days” after the results were certified. The state of Illinois certified the results on Dec. 4.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., is the chair of the Committee on House Administration. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., is the top Republican on the panel.