After apparently losing his election challenge against 39th District State Rep. Maria Berrios (D-Chicago) by 125 total votes, Will Guzzardi said today that he would file a recount with the Chicago Board of Elections.
Guzzardi – a 24 year-old political newcomer – said that his campaign was “following up on a number of reports from volunteers” alleging polling place improprieties during election day, March 20. These include allegations from Guzzardi volunteers that Berrios campaign poll watchers looked at ballots after they were cast.
“We want to take every step possible so we can make sure that everyone’s vote is counted,” Guzzardi told Progress Illinois.
Berrios – whose father is Cook County assessor and county Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios – has typically breezed to re-election since taking office in 2003. An e-mail to Berrios and calls to her Chicago and Springfield offices were not immediately returned.
The Guzzardi campaign will file for a discovery recount, meaning that the campaign can ask city election officials to re-examine the ballots at up to a quarter of the 39th District’s polling places.
While the legal costs of a prolonged recount battle can be expensive, the discovery process is not – it will cost the Guzzardi campaign exactly $10 for each precinct they ask the election board to review. Guzzardi said that his campaign is putting together a list of precincts and has currently identified 21 polling sites.
Berrios fended off Guzzardi by garnering 4,021 votes – or 50.8 percent of the 7,917 votes cast – compared to Guzzardi's 3,896 votes – or 49.2 percent of ballots cast, according to the latest Board of Elections numbers.
Guzzardi won five of the seven Chicago wards that fall in the 39th District. But Berrios won the 31st Ward, 64 percent to 36 percent – the ward with the highest voter turn out. Berrios’ father is the 31st ward committeeman.
Legal recount requests are fairly rare.
Chicago Board of Elections spokeswoman Jim Allen said that the last city challenge took place following a 2008 Cook County Subcircuit Court primary race between Dominique C. Ross and Stephen Stern. Ross originally beat Stern by 109 votes in a 55,200-vote race. A full recount filed by Stern, as opposed to the more limited discovery recount, actually increased Ross’ victory margin to 158 votes.
UPDATE 1 (3:15 p.m.): Berrios spokesman Manuel Galvin noted that Guzzardi has yet to officially file a recount, but said that they are fine with the decision if Guzzardi does go forward with his plan. "It's the loser's right to file an appeal," Galvin says.
Galvin also took issue with the allegations of impropriety from the Guzzardi campaign, wondering why Guzzardi didn't file for a recount earlier if they had evidence of impropriety.