by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx survived a bid to kick her off the ballot for the March primary, after the Cook County Officers Electoral Board ruled Thursday she had more than enough valid signatures on her nominating petitions.
Rival Bob Fioretti’s campaign had objected to Foxx’s petitions, claiming they showed a pattern of fraud, but a hearing officer earlier this week determined Fioretti’s campaign could provide no evidence to back up that claim.
Fox needed to submit 7,279 valid signatures on her nominating petitions to get on the ballot for the Democratic primary election on March 17. She submitted 20,762 signatures, and after Fioretti’s campaign filed a challenge, a hearing officer threw out 10,121 as invalid — largely because the signatures or listed addresses didn’t match the person’s voter registration records, or because of other errors on the paperwork.
That left Foxx with 10,641 signatures deemed to be valid, or 3,362 more than she needed.
Fioretti’s team argued that the sheer number of signatures deemed to not be genuine shows a “pattern of fraud,” and asked hearing officer Barbara Goodman to throw out all of her petitions. However, Foxx’s team argued that the mistakes on Foxx’s nominating petitions amount to no more than common innocent mistakes that every candidate faces when submitting signatures.
Foxx’s team said it’s common for any candidate to gather many signatures that don’t match a person’s voter registration, because they sign in a rush; or that some people who sign a nominating petition have moved since they last registered to vote, and their address no longer matches their voting record, making their signature invalid.
The Foxx campaign has said that’s why most candidates file two to three times the minimum number of signatures on their petitions, because innocent mistakes are so common.
Goodman ruled Fioretti’s team could provide no evidence to back up their claims, such as testimony from a handwriting expert or an investigator who could show actual fraud, and recommended Foxx be placed on the ballot.
Thursday morning, the board unanimously overruled Fioretti’s objection and ruled Foxx would appear on the March 17 ballot.
Foxx won the first spot on the ballot for the Democratic primary last month, and Fioretti won the last spot, in a lottery to determine the ballot order in the race. Bill Conway will appear in the second position, and Donna More will appear in the third position in the four-candidate race.
Two Republicans — Christopher Pfannkuche and Patrick O’Brien — also are running for state’s attorney.