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State Sen. Ira Silverstein four signatures up in back-and-forth ballot challenge

State Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago. | AP

Another day, another count — but the same uncertainty over whether embattled state Sen. Ira Silverstein’s name will remain on the Democratic primary ballot to retain the North Side and north suburban seat that he has held for nearly two decades.

In the third round of wrangling over a resident’s challenge to Silverstein’s nominating petitions, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners hearing officer Maurice Sone on Thursday revised his total to place the senator at 1,004 valid signatures, once again edging past the 1,000-signature minimum required to make the ballot.

Sone initially placed Silverstein at 1,002 signatures in a hearing last Sunday, but commissioners on Tuesday rejected his recommendation to put the incumbent on the ballot. The hearing officer acknowledged he mistakenly double counted a signature, and affidavits from two additional voters who said they hadn’t signed Silverstein’s petitions trimmed the count to 999 — a single registered voter short of the requirement.

The commissioners then ordered Sone to review all voter affidavits in the case. He will make the case for his amended total of 1,004 signatures at a hearing Friday morning, when commissioners are expected to make a final ruling, board spokesman Jim Allen said.

Neither Silverstein nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment.

It has been a rocky reelection year for Silverstein, who was accused last summer of sexual harassment by victims’ rights advocate Denise Rotheimer. The allegations forced Silverstein out of his post as majority caucus chair, though the legislative inspector general ruled last week that he had not committed any harassment or “unlawful conduct.” But the inspector did deem his behavior “unbecoming a legislator.”

The scandal prompted four Democratic challengers to vie for the 8th District seat that Silverstein has held since 1999. Ram Villivalam, Zehra Quadri, David A. Zulkey and Caroline McAteer-Fournier are also running in the March 20 primary.