Ald. Mell ‘happy’ she may avoid runoff, rival vows to keep ‘going ahead’

SHARE Ald. Mell ‘happy’ she may avoid runoff, rival vows to keep ‘going ahead’

It looks like Ald. Deb Mell may have avoided a runoff, unofficially.

The Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners on Tuesday released the latest unofficial ballot count, with Mell gaining a larger lead.

The official results will be announced on Thursday.

In the hotly contested 33rd Ward race – Mell has 50.21 percent to Tim Meegan’s 34.01 percent, according to the latest count, which includes all absentee and provisional ballots.

To win outright on Feb. 24, candidates needed a majority, often described as getting at least 50 percent plus 1 vote. Mell fell short, until the absentee votes were counted days later.

Jim Allen, Board of Elections spokesman, said the board is proceeding with preparing the ballots, based on the latest figures.

“If the court orders us to do something different, we’ll revisit that, but based on the data that we have, you either do or don’t have a runoff. We have to proceed because grace period voting starts tomorrow,” Allen said.

Last week, Meegan — a Chicago Public Schools teacher who is endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union — filed the required legal paperwork seeking a full recount of all ballots cast in the Northwest Side ward.

In his lawsuit, Meegan claimed “machine dirty tricks.”
Nick Burt, a spokesman for Meegan’s campaign said the numbers aren’t making a dent in their campaign efforts.

“We’re very much going ahead with the campaign and assuming a runoff on April 7. . . . There’s still a suit pending, and we’re confident in a favorable result,” Burt said in an email.

Burt said at least 50 volunteers have come out over two weekends, handing out materials to voters.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to give the 33rd Ward the first runoff it’s seen in many decades,” Burt said.

Meegan’s suit made dozens of voter fraud allegations, including that some voters were “impermissibly electioneered” to vote for Mell at the poling places by the placement of palm cards in the voting booths, and by supporters and signs within the 100-foot protective line beyond which campaigning is forbidden.

The lengthy allegations are customary in recount petitions, the job being to provide as much information as possible to try to get the court to overturn the election and conduct a recount.

The suit seeks an expedited schedule for a hearing, prior to April 7, when a potential runoff election would take place.

Mell said she’s pleased with the results and is looking forward to the official ballot results on Thursday.

“I’m happy with the final tally,” Mell said Tuesday of the unofficial count.

She said her lawyers are continuing to work on Meegan’s suit.

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