AUSTIN — A West Side aldermanic candidate cleared a major hurdle to being added back to the ballot in the 28th Ward race — with less than a week to go before the election.
Candidate Shawn Walker got back on the ballot thanks to just one extra petition signature, officials ruled Tuesday.
Members of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners determined Walker should be reinstated to face three-time incumbent Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) in the Feb. 28 election following a two-day hearing.
Walker was disqualified in January after the same board determined he did not have the required 473 valid petition signatures. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed that decision Friday, forcing a small delay to early voting so Walker’s name could added to ballots.
The appellate court sent the issue back to the election board for another hearing, and commissioners on Tuesday night agreed Walker collected 474 valid signatures — one more than the minimum required.
The decision to reinstate Walker again will go before the appellate court for final review, the last step of the process to add his name to the ballot.
“I would like to thank God, my attorney and my team for standing with me during this challenge,” Walker said. “This is another classic story of David vs. Goliath. Today, we won the battle, but the fight for the 28th Ward is not over. Now, it’s time to go win the war.”
Ervin, whose other two challengers also were knocked off the ballot in January, said he would appeal.
“We appreciate the Chicago Board of Elections working swiftly on this matter, but disagree with their decision,” Ervin said in a statement. “We will be filing an immediate appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court to remedy this situation.”
In reviewing the case Monday, the elections board determined 16 of Walker’s signatures were erroneously discounted.
A few people signed Walker’s petition twice, but instead of removing the duplicate signatures from the tally, their names were completely erased, officials ruled. Restoring those signatures back and correcting a few other discrepancies pushed Walker over the required number of signatures, officials said at the hearing.
Objectors argued some of those signatures weren’t valid because of handwriting discrepancies.
A hearing officer Monday nonetheless recommended the signatures count toward the total because of Walker’s sworn testimony about collecting them.
Ervin was appointed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley in January 2011. In 2015, he ran unopposed after knocking his seven challengers off the ballot through petition challenges. In 2019, Ervin was reelected in a four-way race.
Early voting machines were reprogrammed Monday morning to include Walker’s name. Election officials are still working out the logistics of printing and distributing new mail-in ballots, they said at the hearing.
The 359 early voting ballots already cast in the 28th Ward will be processed and counted. People who already voted cannot request a new ballot, officials said.
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