Emanuel Attacks Ballot Challenge - NBC Chicago
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Emanuel Attacks Ballot Challenge



    Emanuel Attacks Ballot Challenge

    Rahm Emanuel's campaign said the Chicago Tribune got the residency issue all wrong.

    This week the newspaper's columnist John Kass published a story saying that Emanuel had twice been purged from Chicago's voter rolls because of residency issues, and said election lawyer Burt Odelson planned to file a lawsuit to have him booted from the race.

    Not so fast, say Emanuel's people. In both instances the Chicago Board of Elections encouraged Emanuel and Chicagoans who followed Barack Obama to Washington D.C. to apply for absentee ballots while they were working in the White House.

    The campaign says that means elections officials considered him to be a Chicago voter and is one reason he also should be considered a legal resident.

    What's more, the campaign and others say using the phrase "purged from the voter rolls" is incorrect. Chicago elections officials do not purge voters, reports Rich Miller from the CapitolFax Blog.

    * OK, first of all, Emanuel was never “purged” from the voting rolls. Chicago doesn’t use that term, according to city board of elections spokesman Jim Allen. They have two classifications: “Inactive” and “Canceled.”

    “Canceled” means you’ve registered to vote in some other county, state or address or are in prison for a felony. “Inactive” means there was a problem with the card the board mails out.

    * Secondly, Burt Odelson’s comment about “By some magical means… Emanuel was reinstated,” is bogus, according to Allen and another election law attorney I’ve consulted.

    Here’s why: When you request an absentee ballot, the city mails that back to you with an affidavit that you must sign saying you reside at such-and-such address and are lawfully entitled to vote. And that’s it. Your vote counts even if you’re on the inactive list. There was no need for magic, or conspiracies, or inside help. He just needed an absentee ballot, which Rahm Emanuel indeed requested before the February primary earlier this year.

    Emanuel and his team Thursday provided the Tribune with copies of his absentee ballot requests he had filled out in January 2010.

    That followed a November 2009 from the Chicago election commissioner offering to help Emanuel and other White House staffers from Chicago stay current with their registration.