By AARON GETTINGER
William Calloway has asked the Cook County Circuit Court for a recount in his election race against Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), saying the incumbent’s thin lead — 6,841 (50.64%) to his 6,669 (49.36%) at Herald press time — is the result of mistaken ballot-counting and fraud that, when rectified, will overturn the election results.
He faces stark odds. Hairston’s 172-vote lead is relatively high for an aldermanic election. In the 2010 Illinois Republican gubernatorial primary, for instance, Sen. Bill Brady (44th) bested then-Sen. Kirk Dillard by 193 votes in a race with almost 57 times more voters than the 5th Ward runoff, and Dillard declined to seek a recount.
At any rate, Calloway alleges that numerous mailed-in ballots received before the April 2 deadline were improperly excluded. He also said numerous voters did not execute the affidavit necessary for mailed ballots and urged that, “in the case in which vote-by-mail ballots are so numerous” in a precinct that such a voter’s ballot cannot “be separated from other vote-by-mail ballots, proportionate reduction should be applied; i.e., in a precinct where he and Hairston split the votes evenly, half a vote would be subtracted from both their totals.
Calloway said that some 5th Ward voters at polling places shared with 6th Ward precincts were, “through mistake and/or fraud … given the wrong ballot” or “directed to and used incorrectly programmed touchscreen voting devices.” He also alleged that numerous ineligible voters cast ballots, whether from 5th Ward addresses that are not their true residences or from addresses at which they were not registered.
Because a re-tabulation of votes in the 8th Precinct that, once corrected, returned 374 votes instead of 281, Calloway said that all the precincts should be counted again.
Calloway said that “numerous ballots and electronic vote-counting devices were improperly handled, altered, abandoned and/or removed” by non-credentialed or unqualified persons in precincts, namely the 34th and 37th, and that a recount in all precincts would produce a different election result. He also alleged equipment failures in the 8th, 21st, 34th and 37th precincts and that the 28th and 34th were staffed by unqualified judges.
Calloway’s attorney, Liz Homsy, said “quite a few” precincts in 5th Ward did not have adequate judges on Election Day. “Honestly, we’d just like them to take another look,” she said.
April 16 is the deadline for mailed-in ballots to arrive. Returns have slowed to a trickle as the days since the election have become weeks: between April 8 and April 15, just 20 additional votes were added to the runoff total. Spokesman Jim Allen said the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners plans to proclaim a 5th Ward winner on Thursday, April 18.
Aldermanic candidates have five days following the election to submit a court challenge; Calloway filed his suit against the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners on April 8.
The new City Council is slated to take office on May 20.
The Herald was unable to reach Calloway or his campaign manager, Bobby Burns, for comment. When reached for comment, Hairston’s campaign manager, Delmarie Cobb, said she expects the Thursday-certified vote count to stand.