One day after State Representative Lauren Underwood was sworn in for a second term in the 14th Congressional District, Republican challenger Jim Oberweis launched a campaign to overturn the election.
Oberweis said he filed a “Notice of Contest” with the Clerk House of Representatives Monday on reportedly the final day of the deadline to contest results. Candidates must file the notice within 30 days after the results were certified. Illinois certified Underwood as the winner December 4 a month after defeating Oberweis by 5,374 votes. Underwood received 50.67 percent of the vote or 203,209 votes to Oberweis’ 49.33 percent, or 197,835 votes.
Oberweis seeks to void nearly 40,000 Kane County mail ballots, claiming that they were not properly initialed by election judges.
In a statement to the media, Oberweis said “numerous irregularities were found” in the discovery recount, including the 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.
In response to Oberweis’ move, Underwood’s campaign 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 3 and remains focused on the work the people of the 14th District elected her to do.”
Underwood, a registered nurse, became a freshman Black Democrat in 2018 when she defeated longtime Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Underwood’s victory helped Democrats flip the U.S. House to Blue with a stunning victory in a congressional district that has historically elected Republican candidates to office.
Oberweis is an Illinois state senator and candidate who has run for U.S. Senate three times since 2002. He ran for Illinois governor in 2006 and for Congress in 2008. Less than 24 hours after the polls closed November 3, Oberweis declared victory when he had a lead of nearly 1,300 votes. Underwood eventually won after election officials counted thousands of mail-in ballots left to count. Underwood received more votes from mail-in ballots than her opponent.
During a recount, Illinois allows a candidate to review votes in up to 25 percent of precincts. The 14th Congressional District has 462 precincts.