State of Illinois

Illinois 45th State House District Mail-in Ballot Challenge

Mazzochi v. Kaczmarek

Lawsuit filed by Deanne Mazzochi (the Republican candidate for the 45th state House District) against the DuPage County clerk and Jenn Ladisch Douglass (the Democratic candidate for the 45th state House District). At the time this lawsuit was filed Douglass was in the lead by about 175 votes. The plaintiff alleges that the Dupage County clerk “is not properly verifying mail-in ballots” and further alleges that the clerk is not following proper signature matching procedures. Specifically, Mazzochi claims that the clerk is not matching the signature on a given mail-in ballot to that on the voter’s registration file. The plaintiff states that “[a]t least three individuals, including Mazzochi herself, have witnessed the verification of mail-in ballots that have signatures that do not match the voter’s registration record, where election officials subsequently ‘verify’ the signature by comparing it to the signature that appears on the mail-in ballot application.” The plaintiff argues that mail-in ballots were verified “in violation of the Election Code and counted as votes in the 2022” midterm elections. Mazzochi requests that the clerk be prevented from “verifying or certifying” mail-in ballots cast during the 2022 midterm elections “until such time as they can be properly verified as required by law.” Additionally, Mazzochi requests that the clerk be prevented “from presenting to any election judge reviewing vote-by-mail ballots any signature sample beyond those signatures that the voter used to register to vote; or reaffirm the voter’s registration status.” The plaintiff demands that all mail-in ballots must be sequestered and preserved “so that they can be verified by lawful process in accordance with the Election Code” and that data pertaining to mail-in and Election Day voting is preserved as well. Finally, the plaintiff requests a writ of mandamus (a court order compelling a party to take a certain action) to compel the clerk to “[r]equire election judges to verify mail-in ballots by comparing the signature on the mail-in ballot with the voter’s registration signature and that if such signatures do not match, to reject the ballot and provide the voter notice and opportunity to demonstrate why the ballot should be counted” and to put all already counted mail-in ballots through the same process in order to re-tabulate the results of the 2022 midterm elections. 

On Nov. 15, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In the order, the judge directed the DuPage County Clerk to verify signatures on mail-in ballots by comparing the signature on a mail-in ballot to that on a voter’s registration file (as opposed to the signature on a voter’s mail-in ballot application). The defendants’ subsequently appealed this order to the Illinois Supreme Court and asked the court to reverse the lower court’s order. On Nov. 21, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the appeal, thereby leaving the lower court’s order in place.

On Nov. 23, the defendants filed a petition in an appellate court asking it to reverse and vacate (meaning void) the trial court’s Nov. 15 temporary restraining/preliminary injunction order. On Dec. 2, a three-judge panel of the Illinois Third District Appellate Court vacated the Nov. 15 temporary restraining order issued by the lower court against the DuPage County Clerk. On January 2023, Mazzochi’s opponent, Rep. Jenn Ladisch Douglass (D) was sworn into office. On April 10, 2023, the case was dismissed.

Case Documents (Trial court)

Case Documents (appellate court)

Case Documents (Illinois supreme court)

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