CHICAGO — A lawsuit challenging the way Chicago's elections board audits election results has been shredded by a federal judge.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois, was brought by several election monitors. It claimed the methods used by the Chicago Board of Elections (BOE) to audit the 2016 state primary elections violated their right to vote as well as their right to association and to petition the government. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs took particular issue with the so-called “5 percent test” used in the audit. The 5 percent test refers to the sample size of voting machines included in the post-election audit analysis.

The Board of Elections argued the audit had no effect on election outcomes, so it could not have violated voting rights or rights to association or to petition the government. 

U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey agreed.

This was not the first time the case had been before the court. In May, the counts for violation of right to association and to petition the government had been dismissed, but the plaintiffs were given a chance to amend their complaint regarding the violation of the right to vote.

Blakey again found the claim to be deficient. In order to survive a dismissal motion, a claim must be plausible on its face and convey “more than a sheer possibility that the defendant acted unlawfully,” Blakey said in his analysis.  

The court found the claim implausible because it was based on a misinterpretation of Illinois election law. The defendants argued that certain election statues made it possible for the “5 percent test” to alter election results. According to the court, this is simply not the case.

“Simply put, the plain text of (the law) unambiguously says that the discovery procedure’s results, and thus the 5 percent test’s results, cannot change election results," Blakey said in the decision. "Under Illinois law, the only outcome of an error in the 5 percent test count is a publicly available written report.” 

This was also the reason that the initial complaint was dismissed.

“In the end, the ‘serious problem’ with [the] plaintiffs’ complaint that this court identified during the May hearing persists here,” Blakey said.

Plaintiffs in the case were represented by the firm of Gregory E. Kulis and Associates Ltd., of Chicago.

The Chicago Board of Elections was defended by the firm of Dykema Gossett PLLC, of Chicago. 

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