Write-in votes counted: Jean-Baptiste is back

Marissa Conrad

The write-in campaign of Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) won 65 percent of the official count of the election for Second Ward Alderman, City Clerk Mary Morris said Wednesday.

His opponent, Christopher Stewart, will not contest the results, said Cathryn Crawford, Stewart’s sister and campaign manager.

Morris said the judges from each precinct are not required to report the number of thrown-out ballots, but Jean-Baptiste said he is sure some ballots were discarded.

Jean-Baptiste, whose name was removed from the ballot Feb. 11 because he did not fill out his petition properly, received 738 write-in votes Tuesday. Stewart, who was on the ballot, received 402 votes, for a total of 1,140 votes counted.

A total of 1,240 Second Ward ballots were counted in Tuesday’s mayoral race.

“When you’re a write-in candidate, you’ll find that those who come to vote for you may not have grasped the process as well as you have hoped,” Jean-Baptiste said Wednesday. “(They) may make mistakes.”

Voters had to write Jean-Baptiste’s name and the title of the office, and place an “X” inside the box in front of his name.

Ballots are invalid if a voter put a check-mark in the box instead of an “X,” or if the lines of the “X” intersected outside the box, said Scott Burnham, spokesman for Cook County Clerk David Orr. Although Orr’s office trains election judges, Burnham said he does not agree with the policy.

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I mean, clearly, placing a check mark in the box indicates voter intent.”

Members of Stewart’s campaign want to work with judges in the future to make sure they are correctly trained to count write-in votes, Stewart’s campaign manager Crawford said.

Rachel Hayman, a write-in candidate who won Tuesday in an uncontested race for one of four open spots on District 202’s school board, said part of the battle is simply getting voters to take the effort to use their pens instead of punching a card.

Hayman received only 773 votes, she said. But the other three candidates, who were on the ballot, each got more than 7,000 votes.

“It’s clearly an uphill battle,” she said. “You (as a voter) physically have to have a pen, you have to know what you’re doing, and you have to do it.”

The last Evanston candidate to win a write-in campaign was District 202 School Board member Jane Colleton in 1991.

The Daily’s Elizabeth Gibson contributed to this report.

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