Embattled 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, clad in a top hat and overcoat, is seen in a cellphone video handing out shoulder bags at a polling place on South Archer Avenue during November’s general election. The video was shared with Chicago Tonight by the Garcia for Congress campaign of U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is backing one of Burke’s opponents in the 14th Ward aldermanic race.
In the video, Burke can be seen arguing with poll workers who say he shouldn’t be handing the bags out there.
“What’s the problem with passing out these bags?” he can be heard saying in the video to a poll worker. “There’s nothing on here about ‘vote,’ there’s nothing here about ‘elections’,” he says, pointing to the bags.
The worker explains that he’s just doing what he was told to do, and mentions a supervisor named Mr. Brown.
“Call Mr. Brown and tell him Alderman Burke is here, and he’s objecting,” Burke can be heard saying.
On Tuesday, Garcia called on election authorities to be extra vigilant in preventing electioneering practices in light of Burke’s actions seen in the video.
“The bags had the name of someone running for office in this election (read: Burke), and they were collecting petition signatures,” Garcia said. “These are blatant violations of voting procedures, and they were happening in every precinct (in the 14th Ward).”
Garcia and some of his allies say they immediately filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections, which is investigating the matter.
According to Chicago law, it’s illegal to campaign inside and directly outside of a polling place.
“There are three categories of people who can and should be in a polling place: poll workers, voters and poll watchers,” said Chicago Board of Elections chief Jim Allen. “This clearly doesn’t fall into any of those categories.”
Allen says the board received the complaints on Nov. 6 of electioneering in the 14th Ward, sent out an investigator, and the problem was “solved.”
Garcia did not say what punishment he was seeking for Burke, other than hoping that election authorities would “examine the evidence and act accordingly.”
The Burke campaign did not reply to requests for comment. Burke is facing two election challengers as he deals with fallout from a federal criminal charge of attempted extortion, and an ongoing federal investigation.
Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz