Chicago Board of Elections Refused Nine Republican Candidates Ballot Access

 CBOE Threw Out 72% of the Republicans’ Signatures

As with fish, the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE) is rotting from the head down. The Cook County Circuit Court is currently deciding whether or not to remove CBOE Chairman Langdon Neal from office. During his 15 year tenure, CBOE Chairman Neal has personally earned $30 to $40 million from numerous and substantial conflicts of interests. Neal’s law firm received over $100 million from the same public officials whose elections he conducted and certified. It doesn’t stop there. Neal personally collected over $11 million in fees for lobbying the mayor and aldermen whose elections he previously oversaw.

In spite of the intense scrutiny of Neal’s private legal business conflicting with his election commissioner duties, Neal continues to abuse his election authority. Recently CBOE Chairman Neal and his underlings denied ballot access to all nine Illinois Republican state legislative candidates who filed to run against Democrats in November, 2012. The boundaries for these nine legislative districts are partially or completely in Chicago

Illinois election law requires state representative and state senator candidates to submit a minimum number of signatures for their names to appear on the ballot. The number of required signatures varies with each candidate’s district. Three of the nine Republican candidates–Scott Campbell, George MaAyteh, and Tom Morris–needed a minimum of 1,000 valid signatures and the remaining six candidates needed at least 500 valid signatures (see table below).

CBOE Chairman Neal and two other CBOE commissioners had the final authority to determine the validity of the signatures submitted by all candidates. The CBOE commissioners denied ballot access to all nine Republican candidates for the very same reason: insufficient number of valid signatures.

Republican Signature Statistics1

Candidate

Valid Signatures Invalid Signatures Percentage of Invalid Signatures

Gregory Bedell

408

397

49%

Scott Campbell

498

2,112

81%

Juan Diaz

172

472

73%

George MaAyteh

357

1,525

81%

Paul Minervino

325

724

69%

Thomas Morris

444

1,005

69%

Roy Pletsch

423

1,086

72%

Evelyn Reid

428

163

28%

Kimberly Small

239

1,077

82%

3,294 is the total number of valid signatures

8,561 is the total number of invalid signatures

72% is the total percentage of invalidated signatures

 

The fact that the CBOE denied all nine Republican candidates ballot access is highly suspicious. Invalidating an average of 72% of the Republican candidates’ signatures warrants a criminal investigation. One or two Republicans with 72% invalid signatures would be a startling statistic. But 72% as an average for all nine Republican candidates can only mean the CBOE was biased in favor of the Democrats and prejudiced against the Republicans.

The CBOE preventing non-machine candidates’ names from appearing on the ballot has been going on for years. Sixteen years ago Barack Obama ran unopposed for the Illinois state senate because the CBOE invalidated 62% of Obama’s four opponents’ signatures.

The Democratic Controlled State Legislature and the CBOE are in Cahoots

The CBOE commissioners, the circuit court judges who appointed the them, the City of Chicago executive branch who hired CBOE employees, and Democratic state legislators are all important parts of the Chicago machine. Each facet of the Chicago machine plays a role in denying the Republican candidates ballot access.

The Illinois state legislature wrote the law that established the appointment of the three CBOE election commissioners. In fact, according to Illinois election law commissioners must maintain their partisanship or face removal from office. The election law states that if either the Democratic or Republican party is not represented on the election board, then the circuit court must remove one commissioner and replace him or her with a commissioner from the unrepresented party. The problem has been that the Republican party has not had any true representation on the CBOE board for over 25 years. In other words, the circuit court judges are failing to follow Illinois election law. Circuit court judges don’t want to appoint a true Republican election commissioner because it would make it more difficult for the CBOE board to deny ballot access to non-machine candidates.

The Illinois election law that requires the circuit court to appoint partisan, Chicago election commissioners is outdated. Chicago doesn’t hold partisan elections any more. In 1994 the city switched from partisan elections to non-partisan elections. Candidates for aldermen, city clerk, city treasurer, and mayor do not run with any party affiliation. Hence, the election law that requires partisan Chicago election commissioners does not accurately reflect the city only holding non-partisan elections to elect its public officials.

The same political machine bosses who control the elections for state senator and state representative also control the elections for Cook County judges. Since these circuit court judges are beholden to the machine bosses who put them on the bench, circuit court judges appoint whomever the machine honchos want as CBOE election commissioners. Circuit court judges must obey their machine bosses when dealing with the CBOE or the judges will face the wrath of the machine when they are up for reelection.

The Democratic state legislators who are members of the machine write the election law that the CBOE applies to each candidate and each election. The CBOE’s interpretation of Illinois election laws depends on a candidate’s status with the machine. CBOE commissioners liberally apply Illinois election laws in favor of machine candidates every chance they can. On the other hand, CBOE commissioners narrowly apply Illinois election law to stop non-machine candidates from appearing on the ballot when it is the least bit feasible. Since the nine Republican candidates dared to defy the Chicago machine by merely attempting to run for public office, the CBOE evaluated their signatures with the strictest possible standards.

It seems obvious that candidates making it on the Chicago ballot has more to do with the candidates affiliation with the machine then it does with the U.S. Constitution or Illinois election law.

Biased CBOE Election Commissioners is Not Enough to Favor the Machine

It’s not just the CBOE election commissioners who show favoritism to machine candidates. As with CBOE election commissioners many of the 124 CBOE workers were hired at the behest of influential Chicago machine honchos. From 1988 to 2004 the Daley administration illegally hired thousands of workers, including those working at the CBOE. Chicago patronage workers’ jobs depended upon them campaigning for Mayor Richard M. Daley and Daley’s favored candidates. Voters are still feeling the effect of the job rigging scandal that gave Daley and his allies an insurmountable advantage at the polls. Fair and competitive Chicago elections are impossible as long as a majority of CBOE employees continue to take orders from their machine sponsors.

The Democratic controlled Illinois state legislature established an extremely adversarial and onerous signature validation process for the purpose of helping the CBOE deny non-machine candidates ballot access. Because Democrats at the CBOE control ballot access, the more state legislators wrote election laws to make it difficult to access the ballot, the more it benefited Democratic candidates. The November, 2012 election is a perfect example. As a result of the CBOE denying nine Republican candidates ballot access, nine Democratic candidates will now run unopposed.

If Illinois Democratic state legislators spent as much time working on the state’s fiscal problems as they did conniving ways to protect their machine and political offices, the state of Illinois could dig itself out of the massive debt incurred by these self-serving Democratic public officials.

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Notes

To view the CBOE decisions on the nine Republican candidates, click here. Their names are listed in column 3. To read the CBOE decisions for each Republican candidate, click the word “Decision” that is highlighted in blue on the left-hand side of the page.

The number of valid and invalid signatures listed in the table comes directly from the CBOE’s decisions. A candidate’s percentage of invalid signatures was determined by the following formula: the number of the candidate’s invalid signatures divided by the total number of signatures the candidate submitted. The CBOE listed the total number of each candidates’ signatures in its descions. The total number of each candidate’s signatures can also be derived by adding the valid signatures in column 2 with the invalid signatures in column 3.