EDITORIAL: Plenty of candidates for mayor, but you can sign for only one

SHARE EDITORIAL: Plenty of candidates for mayor, but you can sign for only one
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Then-mayoral candidate Bobby Rush files his nominating petitions in 1998. | Sun-Times Library

We were walking down the street with a friend last weekend when a young man approached us, clipboard and pen in hand, looking for signatures to get one of the — how many are there now? — mayoral candidates on the ballot.

Our friend had already signed one candidate’s petition, and he was about to sign this one. Give democracy a chance, right? The more candidates the merrier.

“You can’t sign another one if you’ve already signed one,” we said.

EDITORIAL

Our friend gave the pen back, and thanked us for reminding him. And now we’re reminding you:

Just as it’s one person, one vote, it’s also one person, one petition signature.

The February mayoral election will be only the third since 1989 without an incumbent on the ballot, which has a wide range of candidates talking about running.

No doubt, some candidates will drop out. But, surprisingly, even in a city as big as Chicago, there are only so many signatures to go around because each registered voter is allowed to sign just one candidate’s petition.

Mayoral candidates are required to get 12,500 signatures, but the rule of thumb is to collect at least 25,000 to survive petition challenges. In past elections, some candidates have turned in as many as 80,000 signatures.

So let’s say that 20 candidates, this time around, collect an average of 30,000 signatures each. That works out to a total of 600,000 signatures — more than the number of people who voted in the last mayoral election.

Only five business days separate the Nov. 26 deadline for filing as a candidate from the deadline for challenging petition signatures. After that, sit back and watch everybody fight over who’s got enough valid signatures.

It’s going to be fun.

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