Two men vying to represent the 37th Ward in the Chicago City Council seat have been accused of compiling fraudulent signatures on their petition filings, among other allegations.
Rena Hardy and Darryl Jackson objected to the petition forms filed last month by candidates Leroy Duncan and Otis Percy Jr.
The petitions are required for anyone hoping to be a candidate in the Feb. 24, 2015 election. Candidates running for any of the 50 aldermanic posts had to collect at least 473 signatures from residents within the ward they are hoping to represent.
Five total people — including Duncan and Percy Jr. — plan to run for the race. The other candidates are current Ald. Emma Mitts, teacher Tara Stamps and Maretta Brown-Miller, a Chicago Park District employee who ran in the last aldermanic election.
Citywide, 173 complaints were filed by Dec. 3, the date when objections had to be made to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
The complaints filed against Duncan and Percy alleges they forged and duplicated signatures, and that some signatures belong to those who don’t live within ward boundaries while others were not registered to vote in relation to their listed addresses.
A specific issue taken with Percy’s petitions suggests he turned in the wrong paperwork.
Hardy, who filed that complaint, couldn’t be reached for comment. But Hardy alleges that Percy’s petitions show that he will be running in the general primary election under the Democratic Party, even though he’s running for the municipal election. That claim of party affiliation is a violation of election code, since municipal elections are non-partisan.
Percy told AustinTalks that the city’s election officials directed him to get petition papers from the Illinois State Board of Elections, which gave him a template for the general primary. That paperwork asks the candidate to claim a party affiliation.
Percy said he didn’t question it because he assumed the state office knew what it was doing. He sent AustinTalks the template he said he received.
In response to the complaint about his signatures, Percy said he reminded each signee that they must live within the ward. Each address was double-checked, removing ones outside boundaries before turning in his petition, he said.
Beyond that, Percy said it was impossible for him to know whether signatures were forged or if people were actually registered voters.
“I can’t control what people do,” Percy said.
Duncan’s objector, Darryl Jackson, also couldn’t be reached for comment. He alleges that Duncan’s petition papers state he would be “nominated as a candidate for the election of office” if successful on Feb. 24. That’s a problem because it is misleading, the complaint states.
“This potentially confuses the voter because they are led to believe Duncan would become a candidate for the next election and not the alderman,” according to the complaint.
Both Duncan and Percy said they do not know their objectors.
The city’s board of elections will decide on these two complaints, as well as the dozens of others filed against other aldermanic candidates — including six in the 29th Ward — between January and February.
But those who don’t face objections don’t get off that easy.
The board is also charged with sifting through the paperwork filed by every potential candidate to confirm they followed basic rules, including having the required number of signatures and having paginated sheets. One broken rule can cost someone his or her candidacy.
No one who filed their petitions to run in 2011 was knocked off the ballot for the 37th Ward before the election, according to the board of elections website.