State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Chicago

Potential Lawsuit Surrounding Illinois Districts Wherein More Registered Voters Exist Than Living Residents

By: Patrick Sebastian

There is a self-deprecating, old joke that is told from many an Illinois barstool: “Vote early and vote often.” The joke highlights the historic corruption in the Chicago and overall Illinois electoral process throughout the past centuries, particularly during the era of organized crime. The joke encourages citizens to get up early on Election Day and head to the polls to cast multiple ballots, probably using fraudulent registration. As is occasionally the case, this joke has once again proven to be painfully true in Illinois (and twenty other states), according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), which alleges that seventeen Illinois counties have more registered voters than living citizens.

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Rahm’s Residency: Not a Problem?

According to several news articles, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is moving back to Chicago to run for mayor.  Several news organizations and election lawyers question whether he qualifies as a resident of Chicago.  Rahm Emanuel is registered to vote in Chicago where his car is registered but leased his house to another family.  To run for mayor in Chicago, you must maintain a city residence for one year.

It is striking how similar the facts surrounding Rahm Emanuel’s residency in Chicago are to the seminal, Virginia case on voter residency: Sachs v Horan.  Daniel Sachs was registered to vote and owned a home in Fairfax County.  Sachs had a minimum, one year employment contract outside of Fairfax so he rented a house in Washington County and leased his house in Fairfax to another person.  All the while, Sachs paid property taxes to, registered his vehicle in, and had a driver’s license from Fairfax County.  He was seeking employment closer to home and hoped to return to his house in Fairfax.  In reviewing his residency for voter registration, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that Sachs did not “live in that locality with the intent to remain there for an unlimited time” nor did he have the requisite “place of abode” to establish residency for voter registration.

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