The Signature Requirement for Chicago’s Last Election was Most Likely Unconstitutional in 29 of Chicago’s 50 Ward

The Chicago Machine Deliberately Violates Candidates and Voters Civil Rights to Maintain its Stranglehold on Elected Offices

Here ye, here ye. Come one, come all you candidates and voters who had their civil rights violated during Chicago’s most recent election cycle—and there are thousands of you. First, let’s start with the candidates who possess civil rights to run for public office. Take the 28th ward, for example. Eight candidates filed to run for 28th ward alderman. Voters did not have eight candidates to choose from on election day, they only saw one name on the ballot, namely, incumbent Alderman Jason C. Ervin. Voters also have civil rights to support candidates who espouse their views. The action that denied ballot access to the seven 28th ward aldermanic candidates, also violated the civil rights of the people who wanted to vote for them.

The Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE) is the main trunk, not a branch, of the Chicago machine. The CBOE made seven of the eight candidates from Chicago’s 28th ward magically disappear. The candidate who ran unopposed just happens to be a loyal machine and Mayor Rahm Emanuel supporter. Coincidence, not a chance. It starts with the machine’s hacks in Springfield. Instead of spending time solving the state’s financial crises or lowering taxes, the machine’s state legislators’ top priority is to get themselves and their cronies elected. Hence, they pass election laws designed to eliminate their opposition, such as the one that increased the signature requirement to run for alderman two to five-fold and eliminated all but the machine’s 28th ward aldermanic candidate.

Candidate for 28th Ward alderman Jasmine Jackson is a type of person who instills the greatest fear in ward bosses. She is articulate, intelligent—the proud holder of two master’s degrees—and quite appealing to voters, but the real reason the machine feared Jackson is that she is an independent. Machine honchos like Mayor Emanuel want followers, not leaders.

To run for alderman, Jackson filed 1,700 signatures or more than three and half times the number of signatures required by state election law. After the CBOE ruled 1,282 of Jackson’s signatures were invalid, Jackson was left with 418 valid signatures when she needed 473 to appear on the ballot. The CBOE deemed 75% or three out of every four of Jackson’s signatures as improper. Like countless other non-machine candidates who have been denied ballot access, Jackson learned a Chicago political lesson the hard way. As long as the Chicago machine has the ability to create and enforce election laws, the Chicago machine will continue to lord over candidates and voters regardless of the machine’s failure to represent and serve the people.

In December, 2014 I predicted the signature requirement to run for alderman would be unconstitutional in 10 to 15 wards. My prediction missed the mark. Chicago’s signature requirement was unconstitutional in 29 out of 50 Chicago wards (see table below). The Illinois General Assembly improperly calculated the aldermanic signature requirement based on the number of voters who voted for mayor in 2011. Voters cast 590,391 votes for mayor in 2011 and only 466,177 for mayor in 2015. There were 21% less voters or 124,214 less votes in 2015 than 2011. Less voters and less votes should have meant lower signature requirements. In their haste to eliminate candidates, Illinois state legislators really botched the aldermanic signature requirement.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that signature requirements of 5% or above the percentage of the voters who voted in the last election are unconstitutional. Column 2 lists the number of voters who voted in the last election. Column 3 was produced by dividing the signature requirement of 473 by the number of voters who voted in the last election. Here is how I calculated the percentage for the first ward: 473/8,112=5.8%. As with the first ward, the remaining wards’ signature percentage varies according to the number of voters in each ward. The 29 wards in red are the ones that had a signature requirement of 5% or above. Please note a few more wards may drop below 5% after the CBOE counts absentee and provisional ballots.

 

 

Ward

2015 Voters

Signature

Requirement

Ward’s Racial Majority

Unopposed Incumbent

1

8,112

5.8%

W

2

9,629

4.9%

W

3

9,944

4.8%

AA

4

11,231

4.2%

AA

5

10,932

4.3%

AA

6

10,469

4.5%

AA

7

10,146

4.7%

AA

8

13,128

3.6%

AA

9

11,539

4.1%

AA

10

9,311

5.1%

H

11

9,424

5%

M

12

3,306

14%

H

1 candidate

13

9,490

5%

H

1 candidate

14

4,871

9.7%

H

1 candidate

15

4,326

11%

H

16

5,777

8.2%

AA

17

8,300

5.7%

AA

18

11,907

4%

AA

19

17,755

2.7%

W

20

6,471

7.3%

AA

21

12,891

3.7%

AA

22

5,006

9.4%

H

23

9,405

5%

H

24

6,884

6.9%

AA

25

7,317

6.5%

H

26

6,540

7.2%

H

27

8,261

5.7%

AA

28

6,074

7.8%

AA

1 candidate

29

10,379

4.6%

AA

30

4,041

11.7%

H

1 candidate

31

5,673

8.3%

H

32

7,941

6%

W

33

7,929

6%

M

34

12,196

3.9%

AA

35

5,974

7.9%

H

36

5,867

8.1%

H

37

8,023

5.9%

AA

38

10,978

4.3%

W

39

11,016

4.3%

W

40

9,385

5%

W

41

14,696

3.2%

W

42

6,844

6.9%

W

1 candidate

43

10,011

4.7%

W

44

8,882

5.3%

W

45

12,823

3.7%

W

46

9,913

4.8%

W

47

11,761

4%

W

48

9,252

5.1%

W

1 Candidate

49

8,380

5.6%

M

50

7,640

6.2%

M

In my December post I also called the two to five-fold signature requirement “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived.” The reason why the 473 signature requirement was ill-time is because the Illinois General Assembly raised the aldermanic signature requirement for the first election after Chicago redrew its election map. The General Assembly could not directly tie the signature requirement to voters in the last election in each ward since the new political boundaries meant that many of the 2015 aldermanic voters were not in the same ward in 2011. The formula to calculate the 473 signature requirement was ill-conceived because it was based on total votes for mayor multiplied by 4% and then divided by 50 for the number of Chicago wards (590,391 votes for mayor in 2011 x .04 /50 =472.31 signature requirement to run for alderman).

You need not be a mathematical genius or an election law expert to have foreseen that Chicago’s signature requirement would be unconstitutional before the election was held. In my Dec. post I accurately predicted that Chicago’s signature requirement would go over 5% in 14 out of 15 wards. The reason why it was easy for me to make my prediction is because the total number of voters from each ward varies so greatly. From the table above for example, the 19th ward had 17,755 voters and the 12th ward had 3,306 voters. The 19th ward signature requirement of 2.7% is below the constitutional threshold of 5%; the 12th ward signature requirement of 14% is nearly triple the 5% limit set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorneys Frank Avila and Andy Finko argued the aldermanic signature requirement was onerous and restrictive during CBOE hearings and before the circuit and appellate courts. However, Avila and Finko’s cases occurred before the election. Now that voters cast their ballots for alderman, election results clearly show violations of candidates and voters’ civil rights.

During Harold Washington’s first term as mayor of Chicago, a federal court ordered six special aldermanic elections. The signature requirement for alderman in 2015 is as egregious as the civil rights violations that occurred when Washington was mayor. Because the 2015 signature requirement purposely denied candidates ballot access and impinged upon voters’ rights, a federal judge should order special elections for aldermen. During Mayor Washington’s time, it was a Hispanic coalition that forced the special aldermanic elections. As you will read shortly, Hispanics are once again justified in asking the court to hold special elections.

African American and Hispanic Candidates and Voters Really Got Shafted

The Chicago City Council remap divided the city into 18 African American wards, 15 White wards, 13 Hispanic wards, and four wards in which the wards’ majority of the population consists of minorities. Column 4 in the above table identifies each ward’s majority race, AA, African American; H, Hispanic; W, White; and M, a majority of the ward is comprised of minorities.

Chicago’s ballot access laws shafted Hispanic candidates and voters the most. In the table below, all thirteen Hispanic wards or 100% of the Hispanic wards had a signature requirement over the limit of 5% set by the U.S. Supreme Court. All four of the wards with a majority of minorities or 100% of the wards with a majority of minorities had a signature requirement over 5%. In African American wards, seven of the 18 wards or 38% of the African American wards had a signature requirement above 5%. However, only five of the 15 White wards or 33% of the White wards had a signature requirement over 5%.

There are a total 35 minority wards in Chicago. Twenty-four (24) of the 35 minority wards, or 69% of the minority wards had a signature requirement over 5%. Only 33% of the White wards had a signature requirement over 5%. The percentage of minority wards with a signature requirement over 5% is more than double that of White wards. Hispanic candidates and voters were discriminated against the most. The 100% of Hispanic wards with a signature requirement over 5% is three times that of the 33% for White wards with a signature requirement of 5% or above. The data and tables clearly shows Chicago ballot access laws discriminate against African Americans and Hispanics.

The Chicago machine uses ballot access laws to eliminate its competition, such as stopping Jasmine Jackson and six other candidates from running for 28th ward alderman. In the last election, seven aldermanic candidates ran unopposed (see table 1, column 5). Four candidates from Hispanic wards, two candidates from White wards, and one candidate from an African American ward had no political opponent. The data of unopposed candidates clearly shows Chicago ballot access laws discriminates the most against Hispanic candidates and voters.

Wards Exceeding 5% Signature Requirement by Race

Hispanic

Wards

Wards with a Majority of Minorities

African American Wards

Total Minority Wards

White

Wards

Number of Wards Exceeding 5% Signature Requirement

13

4

7

24

5

Total Number of Wards

13

4

18

35

15

Percent of Wards Exceeding 5% Signature Requirement

100%

100%

38%

69%

33%

Hold Mayor Emanuel Accountable for the Ward Map that Discriminates Against African Americans and Hispanics

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his city council allies pulled a fast one with their ward remap. Recall Emanuel’s ward remap included 18 wards with an African American majority, 15 wards with a White majority, 13 wards with a Hispanic majority, and 4 wards in which the majority of the population is comprised of minorities. Now that the election is over, the results are quite different than what Emanuel and his allies led us to believe. After Chicago voters go to the polls for the runoff elections, white alderman will hold the largest block of votes because they will have won all four elections in which the majority population consisted of minorities. White aldermen occupying 19 city council offices instead of 15 was not an accident, it was by the design of Emanuel and his allies’ ward remap.

Aldermen Ed Burke, Joe Moore, and Debra Silverstein are white alderman who already won reelection in wards with a majority of minorities. Burke running for alderman is more of a coronation than an election. Burke started serving in the city council in 1971 and in the 11 elections since Burke’s first election, he has had one opponent. As with 9 of his 10 previous elections, Burke ran unopposed last Feb. In spite of having only one opponent in 45 years, Burke keeps adding more money to the millions he already has stashed in his campaign funds.

White Alderman Joe Moore won 66% of the vote in the 49th ward. Five candidates filed to run against incumbent Alderman Moore, but only one of Moore’s opponents appeared on the ballot. White Alderman Debra Silverstein won 64% of the vote against her two opponents. Four candidates wanted to challenge Silverstein, but only two Silverstein opponents survived the CBOE challenge process and appeared on the ballot. The CBOE using the unconstitutional aldermanic signature requirement to prevent political competitors from appearing on the ballot made it easy for incumbent aldermen like Moore and Silverstein to win reelection.

The 11th ward is the fourth and final ward in which a white candidate will win a ward in which the majority consists of minorities. Patrick Daley-Thompson won 48% of the vote in Feb. He is the heavy favorite to win his runoff election. Thompson was elected Water Reclamation commissioner in 2012. Daley-Thompson is the nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley, former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and current Cook County Commissioner and 11th Ward Committeeman John Daley. As committeeman, John Daley is providing his nephew Daley-Thompson with the political foot soldiers needed to win the office of alderman. Three of the majority of minority wards were won handily by incumbent white aldermen, and the fourth will go to an established white politician and the white run 11th ward political organization.

Emanuel and his allies deliberately redrew Chicago’s ward map to have enough white voters for the four white alderman to win wards with a majority of minorities. To view the statistics Emanuel and his allies used to draw the ward map, click here. Alderman Debra Silverstein ward has a white population of 48%; Alderman Joe Moore, 44%; Alderman Ed Burke, 40%; and the 11th ward where Patrick Daley Thompson will most likely win has a white population of 40%.

Every incumbent aldermen knows where his or her strongest and weakest support is. Aldermen can predict how many votes they will receive in a building, on a block, or throughout a precinct or ward. When aldermen Silverstein, Moore, and Burke redrew their ward boundaries, they made sure their ward boundaries had enough votes for them to win. Daley-Thompson benefitted from the previous 11th ward Alderman James A. Balcer participation in redrawing the new ward map. Daley-Thompson’s uncle John Daley handpicked Balcar for alderman. His main job was to protect the 11th ward political organization’s interests. When the ward remapping was taking place, Balcar made sure there was enough votes for the 11th Ward Democratic Organization to hold on to the 11th ward alderman’s office.

The above information tells you Emanuel has got to go. Emanuel participated and benefitted from Mayor Richard M. Daley’s 16 year job and election rigging scheme. Emanuel owes his U.S. House of Representative seat to the city workers who violated Emanuel’s congressional opponents and voters civil rights. Chicago’s unconstitutional ballet access and ward remap are an extension of the machine’s 16 year job and election rigging scheme. Emanuel has continued to act like he is entitled to the office of mayor and that he can do whatever he chooses without input from the people of Chicago. Emanuel pretends to support democracy when his actions say otherwise. Emanuel won’t do a damn thing to change the political system that continues to oppress candidates and voters through violations of Chicagoans civil rights. This is the best chance for the real Chicago people to boot Emanuel from office. Please make it happen.