Wednesday, November 08, 2006

 

The Cook County Board Presidency

Mystery. Intrigue. High comedy.

Vote counting mysteriously stopped in the race for the Cook County Board Presidency more than 3 hours ago. The current tally shows Democrat Todd Stroger with a 57-43 lead over Republican Tony Peraica. Ninety percent of heavily Democratic Chicago has been counted. Fifty percent or less of suburban Cook has been counted. No reliable figures are available as I write this. Peracia claims that the votes from townships that voted heavily for him simply aren't being counted. The local news media tend to support this claim.

Stroger delivered an odd (in more ways than one) end of the night speech encouraging his supporters to relax, go home, and get some sleep. He exuded confidence that it'd all be over by morning. Peraica has decided to march on 69 W Washington, which houses both the Chicago Election Commission and the County Election Commission. Dozens of his supporters are marching through the streets of Chicago as I write this. He claims he wants volunteers to secure the integrity of the vote and that to ensure all of ballots are counted. The local news media have been derisive of his efforts and emphasizing that 'Stoger has been ahead all night' and that Peracia's supporters have been drinking.

Peraica and his supporters are now at 69 W Washington. Its a chaotic scene. The media reports that Peraica has stormed into the City's Board of Elections (or is it the County? Or is it the basement of the building?) and tampered with ballots. Video seems to support this. One of the employees could be heard on TV yelling that those are "Stroger ballots."

Though I was trading (and thus paying exclusive attention to) the national elections, I did hear a report that gave a partial vote count from Chicago of 180k votes for Blagojevich and 120k for Stroger. I was surprised at this and it told me that Stroger was probably in trouble. Could the vote counting have stopped simply to leave the impression, aided by a clueless/sympathetic media that Stroger was the winner? (Several media commentators have emphasized that Stroger has had the lead for several hours -- as if that matters when counting has been all but halted!) Or is it incompetence on the part of county officials? Quite a spectacle.

UPDATE: I missed local broadcast media coverage of the election this morning. I think Peraica should be ashamed of his antics last night. What a disgrace.

Here's the Tribune's account. The Sun-Times account is here. AP election results are here. Stroger is ahead 56 - 44 with 78% of precincts reporting. It's interesting to note that Stroger's vote total is 180,000 less than the next lowest vote total among Democrats running county races. By my rough estimates Peraica needs 73% of the remaining votes cast to come out ahead. His campaign mangager said during a tv interview last night that they projected the uncounted precincts would run 3-1 for Peraica. Local commentators seem to think Stroger has won. I'm not sure what to make of all this. We'll see.

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