Ward runoff races heat up

By Steven Chambers and Meghan Tribe

UPDATED: This story’s been updated to reflect late-closing polling places.


Residents in the 1st, 41st, 42nd and 46th wards will have an extra hour to cast their ballots in Chicago mayoral runoff election.

A judge of elections granted a petition of the Board of Election asking for voting hours to be extended in certain precincts in Chicago. Polling places in those precincts are directed to remain open and conduct voting until 8 p.m. All voters in line as of 8 p.m. will be permitted to vote.

This could have an effect on the race for alderman in the 46th ward. Alderman James Cappleman is fighting to keep his seat against challenger, Amy Crawford. Issues in the runoff have focused on crime, poverty, affordable housing and economic development. Crawford forced a runoff when she won 37.6 percent of the vote to Cappleman’s 46.7.

Polling stations in 5 wards stayed open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday. (Jasmine Sanborn/Medill)

Despite reported low turnout in the early hours of election day, Chicago voters still have until 7 p.m. in most wards to cast their ballots in the city’s first runoff mayoral election between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

But in 18 wards, residents are also voting for their aldermen in runoffs.

Hours before the polls even opened, 15th ward aldermanic candidate Rafael Yañez cautioned his supporters through his official Facebook and Twitter pages about reports of voter fraud concerning absentee ballots in the ward.

As of 10:55 am, only 70 voters had cast their votes for the 11th Ward aldermanic run off election between Kozlar and Thompson. (Sara Shouhayib)
As of 10:55 am, only 70 voters had cast their votes for the 11th Ward aldermanic runoff election between Kozlar and Thompson. (Sara Shouhayib)

“Beware: Report on voter fraud in the 15th Ward. Several outraged residents were interviewed and said they had their absentee ballots picked up by a group of individuals associated with the campaign of the committeeman,” stated Yañez’s official Facebook page Rafael Yañez for Alderman said.

The 15th Ward Democratic committeeman Raymond Lopez is Yanez’s opponent in the aldermanic race.

Lopez responded that there was no fraud and no complaint about voter fraud, calling it “only a desperation” move by his opponent.

During an interview with Univision, Yañez said that he is sure that this is happening in the ward, but his campaign is not involved.

Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said that there was a report of someone collecting absentee ballots where a voter reported that they turned over their absentee ballot reluctantly, but the ballot had been received more than a week ago. The Election Board received two affidavits last night and they have been looked into immediately, Allen said.

Still from 15th WardAldermanic candidate Rafael Lopez promises change

The 15th ward has two Hispanic candidate’s running for alderman. Rafael Lopez promises to bring needed changes to the ward. Continue reading

“We’re still investigating it, but there has been nothing yet to indicate it’s been widespread,” Allen said. “We don’t have anything definitive as to who the person was or [on] who’s behalf they’ve been working.”

The 11th ward race for alderman offers political theatre of a different sort. The runoff election pits Patrick Daley Thompson and law school student John Kozlar. Daley, grandson of former mayor Richard Daley, surged to a double digit lead in an Ogden and Fry poll conducted on March 30th. Daley has endorsements from the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago Police Department and has sat on various civic boards.

A screen shot of Patrick D. Thompson's Twitter page, an aldermanic candidate for the 11th ward. Daley is in a runoff election with John Kozlar for the open seat.  (Patrick D. Thompson/Twitter)
A screen shot of Patrick D. Thompson’s Twitter page, an aldermanic candidate for the 11th ward. Daley is in a runoff election with John Kozlar for the open seat. (Patrick D. Thompson/Twitter)

Kozlar, a student at John Marshall Law School was a candidate for alderman in 2011, garnering 22 percent of the vote against then-incumbent Jim Balcer. Via DNAinfo.com, he is credited with turning around the Canaryville little league and wants to attract businesses to the ward.

Neighborhood safety and economic development are top priorities in several city runoffs. Other runoff races reflect heated voter demands to control airport noise from flight patterns at O’Hare International Airport on the Northwest Side and petroleum coke on the Southeast Side.

Additional reporting by Anne Arntson and Coral Lu.

Photo at top: King Shun Moy, 91, votes at a polling station in the 25th Ward. (Jin Wu/Medill)