Green Party blasts County Clerk David Orr for impeding Water Reclamation District election
COOK COUNTY’S SECRET PRIMARY ELECTION There’s an office on March 20th ballots with no candidates listed—and election authorities aren’t trying to inform anyone about it.
[Correction: This release was distributed by the Illinois Green Party not the Illinois GOP Republican Party. It lacked proper attribution]
Voters in the March 20th general primary election are going to see something unusual on their ballots: an election with no candidates, just a blank ballot line and the option to cast a write-in vote.
It will likely take most people by surprise, since the Cook County Clerk’s office has issued zero public statements, press releases, or other information regarding the ballot line. Established political parties received notification of a special write-in-only primary via their central committees, less than a month before the official start of early voting, and otherwise the Clerk’s office has been silent on the subject.
The ballot line, for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board of Commissioners, will be available to registered write-in candidates only. Termed the “Vacancy of Bradford,” the ballot line will allow winning write-in candidates from the primary to appear on the November general election ballot for the MWRD Board seat left vacant by the death of sitting Commissioner Timothy Bradford—but only if they meet the minimum number of write-ins mandated by Illinois election law.
That number, based on the number of signatures candidates would have had to submit in a normal filing, is 1,720 votes for Green Party write-in candidates and 8,075 votes for Democrat Party candidates. The Republican Party did not file a write-in candidate for the primary election.
Complicating the quest for the minimum number of votes, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners has refused to count write-in votes for write-in candidates who did not register separately with their office, even though the Cook County Clerk’s office is the election authority that oversees the MWRD election, and with whom regular MWRD Board candidates file their nomination papers.
That matter will likely be resolved in the courts—but for purposes of the primary election, all the Board of Election Commissioners needs to do is drag its feet until March 20th, forcing most of the write-in candidates to rely solely on suburban Cook County votes to hit their mandated minimum.
It’s Cook County politics in a nutshell: a cushy seat on a well-salaried board that rubberstamps every significant measure put before it for a vote (see “The Billion-Dollar Rubber Stamp” for more info), sheltered in as many ways as possible from actual voter decisions.
If the vast majority of Cook County voters leave the “Vacancy of Bradford” line on their ballots blank, because they have no idea what it is or who’s eligible as a write-in, it’s hard to see that as anything but the deliberate intent of the Cook County Clerk’s office and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
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