From a voters point of view it might be one of the best things that ever happened because it generally allows you nearly a month to go vote at some polling place. Sound nice?
From a candidates point of view there are problems.
First, even if you follow my guide which will get you on the ballot (see details on this page) you simply cannot cover all the polling places that are set up for early voting. For example, the Board of Elections sets up a polling place for each ward. There are 50 wards so that’s 50 places. Then the voter can vote in fire houses, some schools and at the Board of Elections. As a candidate, you should have at least one person at each voting place to make sure things are run correctly and there’s no “hanky-panky” going on. A new candidate simply cannot do that because of the man-power involved, even if you could get 50 volunteers to work every day of early voting. If you had to pay for it then you would need a tremendous amount of money to cover the expenses.
Second, early voting shows favoritism for the incumbent. Obviously, the incumbent has name recognition and a new candidate does not. That, coupled with the fact that there simply is not enough time to get your name out into the voters hands through some media, let alone talk to them, adds to the dilemma. Currently there are nearly 59,000 people per ward in Chicago. According to Board records, approximately 30,000 + voters are eligible to vote. Do you think you could talk to 30,000 people over the period of two or even three months? Do the math. At best it’s 10,000 voters per month, at least. Sorry but I don’t believe anyone has enough time in the day to talk to all those people.
Third, realistically if there is a challenge to a petition submitted by a potential candidate, the challenge (also called an objection) could take a month or longer to resolve. Signature verification, should the hearing officer order it, could take upwards of a week or two itself. The objective of the challenge is to tie up the potential candidate for all long as possible so that (s)he cannot campaign. Believe me, there are lawyers out there who make lots of money doing just that.
I have never been challenged in any petition I submitted even though every time I ran for public office I did have people looking over my petition. I know this as fact because when I was going through signature verification of my competitor, I saw Michael Madigan’s people looking over my petition. I smiled, of course, and told them everything is perfect. They usually didn’t smile back.
Get your copy of “How to Get On the Ballot” and be assured that you’ll get on the ballot too.
I would have loved for them to put up a challenge to my petition because then they would find themselves in court for a frivolous challenge. They never did and I did run for political office five times without a single challenge to my petitions.