* I told subscribers about this on Monday. From the Sun-Times…
A bid to change the Illinois constitution to take political mapmaking out of the hands of state lawmakers faces trouble after state election authorities Tuesday found less than half of the signatures gathered by supporters on petitions were valid.
In a sampling of 5 percent of the total signatures submitted to the State Board of Elections, only 46 percent were deemed legible and from registered voters by state election officials, said Rupert Borgsmiller, the election board’s executive director.
The reform coalition raised $2.7 million, including half a million dollars from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in its quest to put the question on the ballot this November.
* The Yes for Independent Maps campaign is claiming dark motives at the Board of Elections…
Kolenc contended the review was conducted hastily and without uniform standards. He also alleged some election workers made unwarranted personal advances to members of his staff who were official “watchers” of the validation process.
“We’re disappointed in the process. We’ve done our homework,” Kolenc said of the petition-gathering process. “Our validation rate is above 60 percent so we feel confident our validation will lead us to the ballot.”
…Adding… So, they walked into the Board of Elections with a validation rate “above 60 percent”? As commenters have been noting, that factoid right there shows some clear problems with the way the organization functioned.
The Board of Elections randomly sampled 25,375 signatures. Out of those, they found that 11,568 were valid - which translate into an invalid rate of 54 percent. The group needs 298,400 valid signatures to get its constitutional amendment on the ballot. So, they needed at least 15,225 valid signatures out of that random sample to clear this particular hurdle.
The Board has been updating the group all along, so the reformers know where their problem signatures are. Trouble is, time is fast running out to change at least 3,657 invalid signatures into valid signatures. They have a little more than a week to pull this off…
By law, the independent map campaign has until May 30 to try to prove up the validity of names that were deemed invalid. Kolenc said that process began last week and that lawyers for the group may try to seek more time. Kolenc also said the group reserves the right to challenge the signature review process in court.
After the map group attempts to restore names to the valid list, the board can conduct a second, random sample of another 5 percent of signatures if it has questions about whether it statistically has enough to appear on the ballot.
* Another possible bone of contention is that the reform group claimed it submitted 532,264 petition signatures, but the Board found only 507,467 signatures on the sheets.
Needless to say, expect a lawsuit. This is the first time the Board of Elections has done this sort of thing after a recent law change, so who knows what the courts will do…
Borgsmiller also defended the process his staff used in analyzing signatures submitted by Yes! for Independent Maps, a process in which those who both favor and oppose the amendment were permitted to observe.
“I do know they’ve raised concerns about the process we have in place. I understand that. But everything we’ve done, we provide daily those signatures that were invalid to both proponents and opponents,” Borgsmiller said.
Still, that error rate is really, really high, especially considering how much money they had.
The Board is now turning to Bruce Rauner’s term limits/etc. petitions.
*** UPDATE *** The remap reform group sent an e-mail to its supporters today…
This week, we saw the state running a rushed, uneven and behind-closed-doors signature validation process. The result of that flawed process was the inaccurate claim that we didn’t collect enough signatures.
It’s time for a fact-check: We have more than enough valid signatures to earn our rightful place on the ballot. We know our validity rate is above 60% because we conducted random samples on every petition that came in our door. Only a flawed review process from the State could have led to a result so biased against us, but now we are fighting back. Our field team is working hard to set the record straight by rehabilitating the supposedly “invalid” signatures.
Here’s some of what we saw this week:
· State Board of Elections staff encouraged validators to rush through review, with a supervisor in the Chicago office repeating the directive time and time again.
· The State Board failed to give staff instructions for how exactly to examine signatures. That meant each validator used his or her own criteria for determining if petition signatures matched. Consequently, we saw wide fluctuations in validity rates per validator.
· State Board of Elections staff reviewed numerous petitions after the close of business, and without notice to the Independent Maps campaign. It was literally a back-room process.
Broken government has led us to this point, but that’s exactly why this campaign is so crucial for our state. This fight is far from over, and we are confident we will make it to the November ballot.
This campaign will continue to stand up for the work that we all did over the past year and look forward to victory on Election Day.
And Kolenc sent me this…
Note that I said over 60%. 60% is about what we need to make it on the ballot, 59% validity rate to be exact. I stand by the professional operation we ran - paying circulators $14 an hour, organizing volunteer teams across the state, and doing random validity checks on all petitions circulated. We have the numbers, but a rushed, uneven and back-room process has gotten us to this point.