26th District challenger Jay Travis has not conceded to Christian Mitchell, seeks information from Chicago Board of Elections

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

Jay Travis is still contesting Christian Mitchell’s victory in the race for Illinois’ 26th District House seat.

“For now, I have not conceded,” Travis said Thursday afternoon.

Travis said she presented the Chicago Board of Elections with a letter on behalf of her campaign Wednesday to document complaints of voting irregularities. Travis, who could not vote early Tuesday as planned due to technical difficulties at a precinct polling station, also said she filed a request for information on Thursday. She declined to elaborate on the request, except to call it a “fairly detailed request based on the concerns we heard in several precincts.”

According to a campaign e-mail sent out on election day, polls opened late in nine precincts and Travis’ name was missing from ballots at three. The statement also alleges machine malfunctions, interference with results at poll closing time, bribes to stop flyering and police harassment.

Asked if she wouldn’t concede until all issues brought to the board of elections were settled, Travis only said, “I think it would be a disservice to all the people who worked and cared so deeply about this race, and all of the voters who felt disenfranchised on that day not to follow up on many of these concerns.”

“So we’ll see what happens in terms of the information we get next week and we’ll just keep everyone posted,” she added.

Travis lost Tuesday’s election to Christian Mitchell by 518 votes, or less than six percent of ballots cast, according to the Chicago Board of Elections website. An analysis of precinct margins shows Travis won six of the district’s 10 wards by as much as 59 percent of the vote, all of them on the South Side; Mitchell won parts of the district’s 8th ward — including parts of Hyde Park and Woodlawn — by a slim margin, and wards on the city’s far South Side and downtown by a landslide.

“The outcome for me isn’t a final outcome, so I’m waiting to get this information back from the board of elections to make sure that all votes are counted and that the process is fair and transparent,” Travis said.

High-profile Travis supporter Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said in a prepared statement that Mitchell only won “by pandering to predominantly white wards through scare tactics and misinformation about imaginary tax increases.”

Travis did not take up the question of the comment.

“I think you’d have to clarify with Karen, if you want to know more about what she meant by the comments that she made,” Travis said.

She added, “I think the overall results that are in so far indicate that there are a significant number of voters that reject many of the policies that were supported by Mitchell with regard to education and regard to retirement security. That’s across the board.”

For a visual breakdown of the 26th District’s votes, visit the Hyde Park Herald’s interactive map.

Travis said she expects a response from the Chicago Board of Elections possibly by next week.