Cook County primary election for assessor could teach Putin a new trick

Say what you want about the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin's re-election; at least voters for his opponents were not instructed that their votes wouldn't count.  You have to travel to Cook County, Illinois to see that kind of trick pulled off.  As you read the accounts below, keep in mind that the office of county assessor determines how much the property tax burden will be for owners of parcels of land and buildings.  That makes it a powerful office, able to grant or withhold favors to wealthy property-owners and developers if so inclined.

CBS Chicago reports:

In a stunning admission, Chicago election officials said Tuesday it erred by sending out a text saying that votes for an assessor candidate would not count.  CBS Chicago reports that election judges were incorrectly instructed via text message today that a vote for Andrea Raila was not valid.

"We have thousands and thousands of people who want to come out and cast their vote and they are finding out they can't," Raila said.  "I'm calling for an investigation of this process."

Winning a Democratic primary in Cook County is tantamount to winning the office.

We are supposed to believe that it was a "mistake":

It was a "mistake" that went beyond text messages to election judges:

Compounding the mistake, flyers stating Ralia's votes would not count were distributed to precincts.

"[The flyer] was sitting on the table as part of the ballot until I insisted it be removed," said voter Danielle Neerghen.

The background factor was a challenge to the signatures on Ralia's nomination petition:

The saga started when Raila was accused of having fraudulent names on her election petition.  However, a judge ruled recently that her name should stay on the ballot.

Her candidacy was challenged by her opponents: Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios and Fritz Kaegi. ...

While the process played out in court, Raila's name ended up on the early voting ballots.

But voters were given notices saying she was no longer a candidate.  Later a judge ruled differently.

The background factor was a challenge to the signatures on Ralia's nomination petition:

The saga started when Raila was accused of having fraudulent names on her election petition. However, a judge ruled recently that her name should stay on the ballot.

Her candidacy was challenged by her opponents: Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios and Fritz Kaegi. ...

While the process played out in court, Raila's name ended up on the early voting ballots.

But voters were given notices saying she was no longer a candidate. Later a judge ruled differently.

The Board of Elections was so diligent in getting out the news that it "had placed ads in newspapers saying a vote for Raila would not be counted."

Except that an appellate court reversed that ruling, placing Ralia back on the ballot.  That is when the diligence ended.

John Seidel of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, acknowledged the error.  He said a text had been pre-programmed to go out to judges after the initial ruling keeping Raila off the ballot.  The text was a reminder to pass out green and white notices indicating that Raila and Democratic clerk candidate Jan Kowalski McDonald had been removed from the ballot.

Allen said county officials forgot to cancel the text after the appellate court overruled the initial ruling.

They forgot?  They remembered to buy newspaper ads, but they forgot to pay heed to an appellate court decision reversing the point of the ads they had bought and paid for.

At some point, the error is claimed to have been corrected:

"We subsequently to that sent out six different text messages saying 'Do not hand out the green and white notices,'" Allen said.

He said a different black and white notice should have been handed out that referred only to McDonald's removal from the ballot.

Ralia, quite understandably, is demanding a do-over election and a federal investigation.

What is so threatening about Ralia?  Her campaign website states:

As Cook County Assessor, I will fight to ensure that all property owners are treated the same, no matter the location of their property, their income level or their ethnicity, and that property tax assessment increases should be controlled and understood. ...

Andrea promises to work to:

  • Ensure Equal Treatment of all Cook County property Taxpayers
  • Allow Cook County taxpayers to challenge the state tax multiplier on property tax appeals
  • Control Triennial Reassessments that Are Greater than 15% or the CPI
  • Demand that 2018 Triennial Reassessments are delayed until the current error-riddled Assessor formulas are corrected

Cook County is like a banana republic with cold