Montelongo concedes race for Peoria mayor to Dr. Rita Ali, files lawsuit against Peoria Election Commission

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Tuesday morning, Mayoral Candidate Jim Montelongo has conceded the race for Peoria mayor to Dr. Rita Ali following the completion of the discovery recount Monday.

“I congratulate Rita on her victory and extend my very best wishes for her service as our mayor. I called Rita last night and we had a very warm conversation,” Montelongo said in a press release.

Montelongo filed for the discovery recount in 23 precincts after losing the race by 43 votes. The process was supposed to happen last week but was postponed.

In addition, Montelongo is filing a lawsuit against the Peoria Election Commission for “violations of the law in storing and counting mail-in ballots received in the mail, and from the ballot drop box outside the Peoria Election Commission.”

The Montelongo campaign’s legal team consists of Bill Atkins of Johnson, Bunce & Noble, P.C. in Peoria, Mark Braden and Trevor Stanley of BakerHostetler in Washington, DC, and Rob Hanauer of Hanauer Law in Peoria.

“This is not an effort to change the outcome of the election. Our goal is to force the Peoria Election Commission to follow the law when storing and counting ballots,” Atkins said.

The legal team alleged the election commission’s executive director, Thomas Bride, said the election commission violated state statute by not counting ballots received in the mail on Election Day and retrieved from the ballot drop box outside the Election Commission on the night of the election.

They doubled down on the allegation and said the election commission installed a camera inside and outside the facility, which allowed the campaign to see examples of violations of the statute.

Two photos were included with the announcement, in which the legal team claimed to show the problem with comingled ballots.

The legal team said the first photo shows a man inside the Election Commission trying to drop off a stack of mail-in ballots. The Election Commission clerk looked at them, pointed to something that seemed to be lacking on the envelopes, and rejected accepting the ballots.

They said the second screenshot shows the man then going outside the Election Commission, taking a photo of the ballot envelopes and then dropping them illegally into the drop box after they were rejected by the election commission. They claim the ballots would be able to be more surgically challenged if they were not commingled with other ballots received in the mail.

This story will be updated.

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