Board Says Silverstein Is 1 Signature Short in Ballot Challenge

Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein's battle to remain on the Democratic primary ballot dragged on Tuesday, as the Chicago Board of Elections ruled that he is actually one signature short of the requirement - opposing a recommendation the hearing officer in the case made just two days earlier.

Hearing Officer Maurice Sone concluded Sunday that Silverstein cleared a challenge to his nominating petitions with two signatures more than the required 1,000.

But during a Tuesday meeting to consider that recommendation, the City Board of Elections disagreed with his findings.

The board accepted affidavits from two voters saying they did not Silverstein's petition Tuesday, rendering their signatures fraudulent, according to a source familiar with the proceedings. One other signature was found to be a duplicate and thus ruled invalid, the Board of Elections ruled.

That left Silverstein with 999 signatures, just one less than the requirement to remain on the March 20 ballot.

However, before the meeting, Sone acknowledged that he had made a mistake in his analysis - a development that was revealed as the Board discussed the case. He now must revisit the case and explain why he did not accept some of the affidavits previously submitted on the lawmaker's behalf.

Silverstein's lawyer James Nally filed 100 affidavits earlier this month from individuals who swore under oath they had signed petitions for the embattled incumbent, but Sone dismissed the majority of those affidavits for inconsistencies in the signatures between the petitions, affidavits and voter registration cards.

As a routine part of the battle at the Board of Elections that began in December, the Board requested that Sone provide a further explanation as to why 13 of those affidavits were not accepted before moving forward with their ruling.

Silverstein is in a four-way primary for the 8th District Senate Seat on Chicago's North Side that he has held for 18 years.

Three other Democrats are opposing Silverstein to represent the Rogers Park area, including Ram Villivalam, David Zulkey and Caroline McAteer-Fournier.

Silverstein was accused of sexual harassment in October by a woman lobbying for a crime bill. A report released Thursday by the Illinois General Assembly's inspector general found that Silverstein made inappropriate comments and acted unprofessionally but did not harass the woman.

Nevertheless, that allegation led to an overhaul of the legislature's ethics rules, as well as new training for lawmakers.

Regardless of which way the Board eventually rules, the protracted fight will likely continue in the courts.

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