Write-in votes for Judge Maryam Ahmad will be counted in the race for the 1st Subcircuit Hopkins vacancy.
That's the gist of Judge Alfred Paul's Opinion issued earlier today in the case of Maryam Ahmad v. Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, et al., 2016 COEL 000019. The Law Bulletin's David Thomas is reporting this evening that the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners will not appeal today's decision. (The Chicago Board of Elections had ruled Judge Ahmad's declaration of intent to run as a write-in for the Hopkins vacancy invalid because she had been defeated as a candidate in the March Primary for the 1st Subcircuit Brim vacancy.)
Judge Paul's decision today quotes the relevant portion of the applicable statutes, §§17-16.1 and 18-9.1 of the Election Code, as follows: "A candidate for whom a nomination paper has been filed as a partisan candidate at a primary election, and who is defeated for his or her nomination at the primary election is ineligible to file a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election in that general or consolidated election."
The court found this language to be "clear and unequivocal." "Specifically," Judge Paul wrote, "the language of the statute states that a candidate 'is ineligible to file a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election in THAT general or consolidated election (emphasis added).' That refers directly back to the prior language in the same provision regarding a 'nomination paper filed at the primary election.'" Therefore, although Judge Ahmad was a candidate for the Brim vacancy, she can now be a write-in candidate for the Hopkins vacancy in the upcoming general election.
Because the 1st Subcircuit includes both City and suburban precincts, today's order is binding as to both the Chicago Board of Elections and the Cook County Clerk. Judge Ahmad's election law attorney, Burton S. Odelson, told FWIW, today's decision is "a victory for ballot access and giving people a choice."
The only candidate whose name will be printed on the ballot for the 1st Subcircuit Hopkins vacancy is former law clerk Rhonda Crawford. (Crawford was dismissed from her job as a law clerk in the Chief Judge's office after it was determined that she had pretended to be a judge already and ruled in at least a couple of cases in a real judge's Markham courtroom.) Voters wishing to make a different choice will still have to write in Judge Maryam Ahmad's name.
My thanks to Mr. Odelson for providing me with a copy of today's order -- and for being gracious enough not to say 'I told you so' despite my erroneous speculation about the likely interpretation of the relevant statutes in this post.
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