Voter fraud denied by Welch, officials

By Sabryna Cornish

State Sen. Patrick Welch and election officials deny any connection to allegations of voter fraud on election day.

The concern stems from a Tuesday night incident when people voting in Stevenson Towers allegedly were given soda for voting straight Democratic.

The unidentified women were stopped by the University Police and told to leave the building.

At least one of the two women claimed they were handing out the free pop as part of Welch’s campaign, sources said.

Welch, D-Peru, said he has no knowledge of the two women and said they are not connected with his campaign.

“I think it’s an absolute lie,” Welch said. “You can’t pay someone to vote and there was no agreement (to hand out the bottles of soda) on my part or by anyone else in my office.”

The UPs and the DeKalb County Clerk’s office both filed reports with the state’s attorney.

But Duke Harris, assistant to State’s Attorney Mike Coghlan, said he would “hand anything concerning the election night over to the Attorney General’s Office.”

If the state decides to prosecute, the women most likely will be charged with “vote buying,” which is a Class 4 felony, UP officials said. No arrests were made during the 6 p.m. incident.

If found guilty, the two women could receive two to five years in prison with a two-year parole and up to a $10,000 fine.

Officials of the State Board of Elections claimed they were not notified about the incident, said Merle Janowitz in Chicago.

“I have no knowledge of a call coming in yesterday about this,” she said.

Officials in the Chicago Attorney General’s Office denied any knowledge of the incident.