10th ward candidates sweat it out: two weeks for vote count decision

By Lizz Giordano and Meghan Tribe

It’s not over yet for voters on the Southeast Side.

The Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners gathered Wednesday at 1869 W. Pershing Rd. to recount two ballot boxes from the 10th ward aldermanic runoff. The race  pitted 16-year incumbent Ald. John A. Pope against public school counselor and political newcomer Susan Sadlowski Garza.

Representatives from the campaigns of Susan Sadlowski Garza and John A. Pope watch as ballots are recounted. (Lizz Giordano/Medill)
Representatives from the campaigns of Susan Sadlowski Garza and Ald. John A. Pope of the 10th ward watch as ballots are recounted. (Lizz Giordano/Medill)

The final winner in the race won’t be announced until Thursday, April 23, according to election officials.

There will be “no decision today,” said Joan Agnew, assistant general counsel of Board of Elections.

Garza started the recount with a lead of only seven votes.  As the votes poured in Tuesday night, Pope led by a small margin, but by 10 p.m., with 35 out of 36 precincts reported, Garza had 5,472 votes and Pope had 5,465. Two ballot boxes, one from the 11th precinct and another from the 28th, were sent to the Chicago Board of Elections to be counted Wednesday.

According to election officials, there was an error with the memory pack that held the votes in the 11th precinct ballot box and vote counts were not retained. Election officials had to rescan the paper ballots from the precinct. Garza came out ahead with 115 votes to Pope’s 68, giving her an updated 54-vote lead.

“People think they vote and it gets counted, but there are flaws in the system,” said Carl Camacho. Camacho, one of Garza’s supporters, followed the ballot boxes from the 10th ward to the Board of Elections late Tuesday night and was there for the recount Wednesday morning.

“[There’s] still a lot of ballots to be counted,” said Hanah Jubeh, advisor to Pope. “[We’re] looking forward to counting absentee and provisional ballots…and want to make sure that everyone’s vote is counted.”

According to election guidelines, candidates have five days after the election to ask for recounts. All absentee ballots had to be postmarked by Mon., April 6, at midnight in order to be included in the final count. Next Tuesday is the last day for provisional ballots to be counted.

Neither Pope nor Garza attended the recount.

Board of Election employees recount paper ballots Wednesday after the run-off election. (Lizz Giordano/Medill)