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Preliminary Statement: Vote Suppression in Cook County, 2018 Primary Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2018
Illinois Green Party
Secretary@ILGP.org

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT ON VOTE SUPPRESSION IN COOK COUNTY (2018 PRIMARY ELECTION)

COOK COUNTY -- The Illinois Green Party strongly condemns the conduct of poll workers in Cook County during the 2018 primary elections.

Our party has been contacted by voters from over fifteen different polling locations, spanning at least nine of suburban Cook County's townships, who were told by Cook County poll workers that they could not vote in the Green Party primary, and that only Republican or Democrat ballots were available.

This is a flagrant disenfranchisement of voters who wished to participate in a legal, properly registered primary election. The Illinois Green Party is an established party with a registered write-in candidate within Cook County, and fully entitled to the same primary process as the Democrat and Republican parties. 

The conduct of poll workers in denying Green Party primary participation to Cook County voters is inexcusable. Whether it represents a lack of proper training or deliberate vote suppression on the part of the Cook County Clerk's office, the effect is the same: the disenfranchisement of voters whose first choice was to participate in the Green Party primary.

We will continue to reach out to our supporters, and to compile as complete and accurate a list as we can of those voters who wished to vote Green in the suburban precincts but were denied the opportunity to do so.

For questions or media requests, or to add your organization's voice to our statement in support of fair, open elections, contact secretary@ilgp.org or call (773) 809-4547.

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VOTE SUPPRESSION ALERT - COOK COUNTY

Cook County voters, be aware: the Illinois Green Party is an established party in Cook County, with a primary ballot for the March 20th election, and a valid write-in candidate (who will need 1,720 write-in votes to qualify for the November general ballot). 

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN THE GREEN PARTY PRIMARY IN SUBURBAN COOK COUNTY!

However, the Cook County Clerk's office has not made paper ballots available. All Green Party votes must be cast on the touchscreen machines.

We have had multiple reports now of voters going to their polling place, asking for a Green Party ballot, and being told that those aren't available, and offered the choice of Democrat/Republican ballots instead. Other voters have asked for "the Green ballot," and been handed the paper version of the Democrat ballot, which has a green bar across the top of it. 
Voters from at least seven of Cook County's townships have reported being denied Green Party ballots by the poll workers, and told to select Democrat/Republican ballots instead.
 
DO NOT ALLOW POLL WORKERS TO DENY YOU A GREEN PARTY BALLOT!
 
If you are voting in suburban Cook County, you have a legal right to vote in the Green Party primary. Tell the poll workers that you want the touchscreen machine set up for the Green Party ballot. Do not accept any other party's ballot, or the nonpartisan ballot.
 
If you have any problems, or encounter any attempts to deny the availability of a Green Party ballot in suburban Cook County, please contact us at (773) 809-4547, and call the Cook County Clerk's Election Day ballot hotline at 312-603-0920.
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Illinois: You Can Vote Green, Right Now! Here's How.

Early voting has begun for the 2018 primary election in Illinois. The early voting window runs from March 5th to March 19th, the day before the March 20th Election Day.

Voters must choose a ballot at their polling place: Republican, Democrat, Green (where available), or nonpartisan. The nonpartisan ballot will have only referenda (ballot questions), without any individual candidates. 

Green Party Ballots Available

Illinois holds primary elections for "established parties." The Illinois Green Party is established in Cook County and the 12th Congressional District, which covers all of Alexander, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Union and Williamson counties, and part of Madison County.

In those areas, voters will be able to ask for a Green Party ballot during early voting and on Election Day, March 20th.

Voters cannot cast votes for Green Party candidates, including write-in votes, on any other party's ballot. Those votes will be discarded.

Green Party Turnout is Essential In Cook County!

In Cook County, a vacancy created by the death of Commissioner Timothy Bradford will be on primary ballots as a write-in-only primary, with no ballot-listed candidate names. (This is true on all party's ballots, not just the Green Party ballot.)

For a write-in candidate in a primary election to advance to the general election, a minimum number of votes must be met. In the "Vacancy of Bradford" election, that number is 1,720 votes.

That means we need 1,720 suburban Cook County voters to pull the Green Party ballot, and cast a write-in vote for the Green Party's registered write-in candidate, Geoffrey Cubbage.

If we do not receive at least 1,720 write-in votes for Geoffrey Cubbage from suburban Cook County voters, we will not have a candidate for that seat in the general election. 

For more information on the "Vacancy of Bradford" election, and detailed instructions on how to cast your write-in vote, please visit the "How to Vote" page on the Greens for MWRD campaign website

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Tired of "Lesser Evil" Candidates? Boycott Their Parties' Primaries.

Real talk for the Prairie State: it's hard to look down a Republican or Democrat primary ballot in Illinois and not find at least one race where the best option is "Oh God, anyone but them," and we all know it.

In a state where the only official record of a voter's partisan allegiance is their choice of primary ballot, that leaves a lot of voters nominally affiliated with parties within which they'd honestly rather not vote for most of the candidates, and are only pulling the ballot to influence one or two races that they actually care about.

There is a way out of the lousy-candidate trap, but it requires voters to take a brave stance: cast a vote that boycotts the primaries of both establishment parties in an active and recorded way, either by pulling an alternate party's ballot where it's available, or by pulling the nonpartisan, referenda-only ballot as a vote of "no confidence" in both the Democrat and Republican slates.

Voters in the 12th Congressional District (southern Illinois) and in nearly all of Cook County (the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago) will have the option of pulling a Green Party ballot this year, thanks to the party's work in gaining "established" status despite the significant barriers written into Illinois law. In those places, the party has candidates on the ballot, and in the case of the Water Reclamation District race needs at least 1,720 Cook County voters to pull the Green Party ballot and participate in the write-in-only primary set by the Cook County Clerk's office to fill a vacancy. 

In the rest of the state, voters can still ask for a nonpartisan ballot, which will feature only the statewide and local referenda questions, with no candidates of any party listed. Either option sends a clear message to both Democrats and Republicans: "No thank you; your candidates this year weren't good enough for me."

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Cook County's Secret Primary Election

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The Unannounced Election

Cook County voters in the March 20th primary election are going to see something unusual on their ballots: an election with no candidates, just a blank ballot line and the option to cast a write-in vote. 

It will likely take most people by surprise, since the Cook County Clerk's office, the election authority for county-wide races in Cook County, has issued no public statements, voter notices, press releases, or other information regarding the ballot line.

Established political parties received notification of a special write-in-only primary via their central committees, less than a week before the filing deadline for write-in candidates and less than a month before the start of early voting. Other than that legally-mandated notification, the Clerk's office has been silent on the subject.

So, What's the Secret Election For?

The write-in-only ballot line is for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board of Commissioners, the nine-member elected body that oversees Cook County's billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded wastewater treatment and flood abatement agency.

For more than twenty years, the MWRD Board of Commissioners has been an all-Democrat body, and a functional rubber-stamp on all private contracts put before the Board for approval

Termed the "Unexpired 2-Year Term (Vacancy of Bradford)" on March 20th primary ballots, the write-in-only primary will determine which candidates are listed on the general election ballots in November for an open seat on the MWRD Board of Commissioners, left vacant by the December 2017 death of sitting Commissioner Timothy Bradford. 

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Nazis on the Ballot?! Blame Partisan Ballot-Rigging in Illinois

When news broke this week that Arthur Jones, a 70-year-old self-avowed Nazi and Holocaust denier, would be the unopposed Republican candidate in Illinois' 3rd Congressional district, the reaction in most quarters was to blame the Republican Party—either for allowing an environment in which Nazis can flourish, or just for being asleep at the wheel on the 3rd Congressional primary, depending on the editorial slant. 

What's missing from most coverage is the thoroughly rigged ballot access system that allowed Jones to sneak onto the ballot.

arthur-jones-january-2018.jpgJones, pictured above, is unopposed in the Republican Primary for Illinois' 3rd Congressional District.

Out-of-state commentators (and even some from in-state) may not realize it, but Illinois election law is designed to encourage and enforce a two-party system. Candidates in Illinois must submit petitions signed by residents of their district to be listed on the ballot, gathered within a 90-day window, and the number of signatures required is based on partisan affiliation.

In simple terms: getting your name on the ballot as a candidate in Illinois gets easier or harder depending on your political party. 

In Congressional races, like Jones's, candidates of "established parties"—Democrats and Republicans, with a few hard-won exceptions—only need to submit signatures equal to one-half of one percent of their party's total votes from that district in the previous election.

Independent candidates or candidates of "new parties"—which means any party that did not earn at least 5% of the vote in that district in the previous election, regardless of how long it's been around or how many candidates it has in office statewide—must submit signatures equal to five percent of the total vote from the previous election.

The discrepancies border on the absurd. In the case of the 3rd Congressional race, Arthur Jones needed 603 signatures to become a ballot-listed Republican candidate. Despite his odious politics, he was clearly able to do so (demonstrating along the way either that there are over 600 Nazis in the 3rd Congressional, or that petition signatures are a largely meaningless demonstration of "support" within the district). A member in good standing of the Green Party, Libertarian Party, or any other non-Democrat/Republican party, on the other hand, would need to gather 14,559 signatures to represent their party on the ballot in that same race.

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Help Us Fight the Chicago Machine!

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The Illinois Green Party is proud to support its candidates for local office -- and right now, the Cook County Green Party is running a hard-hitting, issues-focused campaign against Chicago's famously corrupt sanitary district Board of Commissioners.

Chicago is famous for its "machine" system: elected or appointed officials control massive, taxpayer-funded administrations full of jobs and contracts, which are handed out to keep supporters loyal come election time. Whether those jobs and contracts actually benefit the taxpayers, or address critical civic issues...that's not really the machine's concern. 

Strong, activist, community-centered candidates like ours are a genuine threat to "business as usual" in Chicago. We know the political machine is going to throw everything it's got at our Greens for MWRD campaign. 

That's why, from now through November 27th, the Illinois Green Party has pledged any new donations to the MWRD campaign. Can you help out with a $10, $25, $50, or $100 donation to support the campaign?

Funds will pay for the critical ballot access process, which is a set of strict legal and petitioning requirements that establishment parties use to keep independents and outsider challengers off the ballot. 

It's a lot of work on a tight deadline -- and your support will help ensure that voters in Cook County have an option on their ballot that isn't the long-standing Democratic Party establishment. 

Please give what you can! We're fighting for clean water -- and for clean government.

Solidarity,

Illinois Green Party

P.S. Want to help out, but can't make a donation? Volunteer with the MWRD campaign instead!

MWRD Candidates Blast Sewage Dumps

mwrd-four-square-facebook-thumbnail.png "Tunnels cannot fully cope" -- Green Party candidates call for rain-absorbing organic infrastructure.

CHICAGO -- In a statement released Monday morning, Green Party candidates for the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District blasted the current administration for its release of raw sewage and wastewater into Lake Michigan during the weekend's heavy rains.

The release of sewage, the candidates claimed, demonstrates that "Cook County desperately needs to develop its water-absorbing green infrastructure, on a scale that the current all-Democrat board is unwilling to pursue. No amount of drilling, tunneling, or laying concrete can fully cope with the billions of gallons of water that arrive in a severe rainstorm."

Candidates Chris Anthony, Karen Roothaan, and Tammie Vinson are all running as Green Party candidates for the MWRD Board of Commissioners on a unified platform that includes climate change readiness, green/organic infrastructure, and an end to the Board's culture of nepotism and cronyism. All three candidates for the MWRD are currently involved in the ballot access petition drive, which will run through late November.

More information on the candidates and their platform is available at mwrd-ilgp.org. For questions or to get involved with the MWRD campaign, contact Illinois Green Party Secretary Geoffrey Cubbage at secretary@ilgp.org224-999-2423.

Candidates for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Come Out Swinging

Green Party slate challenges lack of climate change readiness; points finger at "culture of cronyism and nepotism."

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CHICAGO -- Candidates for the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago came out swinging at a meeting in Pilsen this Saturday. Chris Anthony, Karen Roothaan, and Tammie Vinson, announcing their candidacies for the Green Party ticket, blasted the current Board of Commissioners for its political climate and lack of vision.

"The nominally-partisan Board of Commissioners has been an all-Democrat body for decades," said Ms. Roothaan. "You don't get good governance with one-party rule. Putting Greens on the Board will open the MWRD up to true citizen oversight."

The candidates' presentation highlighted the absence of any reference to climate change in the MWRD's five-year Strategic Business Plan or mission and value statements, as well as leveling harsh criticism at a political culture where "everyone's here on a phone call," as a former MWRD police officer described the District in leaked audio from 2014. All three candidates called for an independent Inspector General for the MWRD.

Presenting their own vision for a MWRD with Green Party representatives on the board, the candidates emphasized a need for green infrastructure to help with flood abatement. "Deep Tunnel was an amazing piece of forward thinking for its time," said Mr. Anthony, referring to the Tunnel And Reservoir Plan begun in the 1970s to combat combined sewer outflows. "But we now know that 'grey infrastructure' of tunnels and canals alone can't prevent catastrophic flooding. The MWRD needs to get serious about land use and permitting that will put an end to serious flooding in Cook County."

The candidates called for an immediate shift towards using MWRD-owned land for green infrastructure projects, rather than the District's current practice of leasing land to private industry. "Some of the tenants on MWRD land are waterway polluters," said Ms. Vinson. "This is the agency that's supposed to be keeping our water clean, so why are they renting their land -- taxpayer land -- to industrial polluters?"

Mr. Anthony, Ms. Roothaan, and Ms. Vinson will be running together on a unified platform. All three candidates for the MWRD are currently involved in the ballot access petition drive, which will run through late November. To learn more about the Green Party's candidates for the MWRD, or to volunteer for the ballot access drive, visit mwrd-ilgp.org. For questions or media requests, contact Illinois Green Party Secretary Geoffrey Cubbage at secretary@ilgp.org, 224-999-2423.

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Illinois Green Party Statement on Las Vegas Shooting

We are saddened by the violence in Las Vegas, and our thoughts are with the victims and their families, as well as the first responders and emergency services staff who are still working to save as many lives as possible. 

It is intolerable that daily shootings, both mass and individual, have become part of the fabric of American life. The Illinois Green Party condemns the two-party political inaction that has prevented common-sense gun reforms from being passed into law, and that continues to underfund the counseling, mental health, and social services that could prevent so many of these tragedies from happening.