Possible mail-in voter fraud in DuPage County under investigation

DUPAGE COUNTY, Ill. -- DuPage County prosecutors are investigating three potential cases of voter fraud tied to mail-in ballots allegedly requested for people who are dead.

State's Attorney Robert Berlin said his office has already investigated six other cases of potential mail-in-ballot fraud and concluded no charges would be filed in those cases.

Each of the cases alleges that the DuPage County clerk's office received a request for a mail-in ballot in September from a county resident who is no longer alive, Berlin said in a statement.

DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek said her office has received nine "invalid vote-by-mail requests" and forwarded those instances to Berlin's office.

"Testing the process is not a game. It's not worth it. Don't even try," Kaczmarek said in a statement.

"While voter fraud is not a widespread problem anywhere, voters need to be reassured that every individual application is held up to scrutiny to ensure that the election is fairly conducted," Kaczmarek said. "With over 200,000 applications for mail-in ballots received to-date and a tiny number of cases being professionally investigated by the state's attorney's office, voters can be reassured that the system is working."

Berlin said his office would investigate, charge and vigorously prosecute anyone who attempts to interfere in the election.

"Additionally, any allegations of fraud, bullying, intimidation or any other activities designed to influence or otherwise harass voters will not be tolerated. These are all serious violations of the law which carry felony penalties," he said.

Voter fraud has become a contentious issue ahead of the 2020 general election as President Donald Trump has asserted that an increase in mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic would result in fraud.

Seventeen states including Illinois prohibit counting ballots cast by someone who subsequently dies before the election, but 10 states specifically allow it.

However, under the new Illinois election law now in place, state election authorities are required to process mail ballots within two days of receipt, making it unlikely that a ballot mailed by a voter who later dies would be caught and rejected in time, according to Illinois State Board of Elections Matt Dietrich.

"Once a vote is tabulated, there's no getting it back," Dietrich said.

In one confirmed instance of voter fraud in 2016, an election judge from southern Illinois was charged after she filled out a ballot for her late husband because she said he would have wanted Trump to be president, according to the Associated Press.

Overall, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 ranked the risk of ballot fraud at 0.00004% to 0.0009%, based on studies of past elections.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2020.)