[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter battling in front of City Hall, at candidate forums and now a judge, the Illinois State Circuit Court ruled last week that 12th Ward Ald. Candidate Pete DeMay will not appear on the February election ballot.
“We have suffered a bit of a setback,” said DeMay after the ruling.
DeMay was removed from the ballot by the Chicago Election Board in January after his petition was challenged by ward residents. The board found that there was a pattern of fraud in collecting the appropriate amount of signatures and a handwriting expert concluded that more than 1,500 signatures on his ballot petition were not valid.
DeMay sought to fight the board’s ruling in court but according to DeMay, the judge, “although sympathetic to the cause,” did not have the authority to overrule the board’s decision.
DeMay claims that his candidacy has been unfairly targeted by the Election Board and 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas from the beginning.
“There are rules that need to be followed. When you don’t follow those rules, this is what happens,” said Cardenas.
Now with his legal team, DeMay is drafting up a case to present to the Appellate and the Illinois State Supreme Courts that will examine possible constitutionality law in hopes of getting an expedited hearing to be placed on the ballot, he said.
The ruling by the Circuit Court gave the 12th Ward’s incumbent Ald. Cardenas an unchallenged campaign to run, as he is now the only candidate on the ward’s ballot.
Regardless of the rulings, the Cardenas camp is encouraging voters to go and vote regardless of the outcome to DeMay’s hearings because there are other elections on the ballot, including the mayoral race.
“The alderman still finds it important to get out and vote,” said Mac-Z Zurawski, the alderman’s media liaison.
But, DeMay has continued to campaign throughout the Ward as a candidate still on the ballot and can technically run as a write-in candidate if the courts don’t decide in his favor.
Write-in candidates are candidates who voters write their names down for when they go to vote. If enough write-ins of the same name tally higher than the incumbent, the write-in candidate wins the election.
According to DeMay, no alderman has ever won a race as a write in. EXTRA News could not immediately confirm this statement at the time of publishing.
After the election is finished and votes are tallied, the write-in ballots will go to a Cook County election judge who will validate each write-in, according to the Cook County Clerk’s website. Complete accuracy of the candidate’s name is not necessary as long as the judge can tell the voter’s intent, the website reads.
If a majority of the judges cannot come to a conclusion on a write-in’s intent, the vote will not be counted.
But write-ins can be a messy situation, according to a source close to the case that wished to remain anonymous. Handwriting and judgment are subjective and, based on the number of votes, can take a long time to tally, leaving voters waiting to hear the outcome of the election up to weeks after the votes are cast, the source said.
For his part, DeMay is not sure if he wants to run as a write in, he said. His campaign has already missed early voting, giving Cardenas a potential head start.
“We really want to get back on the ballot,” he said. “You wonder about our democracy here in Chicago.”
With only a week until the elections, the clock is ticking on DeMay’s campaign, and the ability to be placed on the ballot now rests in the court’s hands. Elections are Feb. 24.
This post is also available in: Spanish