What To Watch For

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On election night back in February the only vote totals made available by the Chicago Board of Elections were the citywide totals. It wasn’t until around 11 or midnight that the ward by ward totals were available. There isn’t a whole lot of interesting analysis that can be gleaned from just the aggregate totals so I probably won’t be doing much tomorrow night.

My hope is that the major media outlets cover this election night well, I thought they did a good job with the runoff. Keep an eye on the Sun-Times, on election night in February a few of their reporters were discussing ward by ward totals well before the Chicago Board of Elections was making that data publicly available. Also, WBEZ has had a lot of good data work throughout this election.

Here are a few of the questions I think people will want to try to quantify on election night, if possible.

  1. How many total votes are projected: (total votes counted so far) / (whole number percent precincts reporting / 100)
  2. What percentage of the uncounted vote does the candidate who is behind need to win in order to move ahead?
  3. Separate the wards by majority African American, majority Hispanic, majority white and no majority, how did each candidate do? How many total votes in each area? Which areas saw the greatest increase/decrease in support levels and turnout?

You should be able to answer the first two questions even without ward by ward totals. Also, the CBOE should be able to tell you how many vote by mail applications were processed and how many ballots were returned so far. The remainder will be a useful number, if there are 20,000 outstanding VBM ballots and the election night totals are within 20,000 votes you’ll want to know that. Any vote by mail ballots have to be postmarked today to be counted but they can be received at any time in the next few weeks.

Unlike November there is no same day registration so the total number of uncounted provisional ballots will not be as significant.

Speaking Engagement

On Thursday afternoon I will be speaking at a lunch panel on the Chicago municipal elections sponsored by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. The event is at noon in the French Room of the Union League Club, ticket info is available here.

Post Mortem

I typically do a post-mortem in the day or two after the election to cover all the various insights available from the data. For this election I have agreed to be part of a larger and more comprehensive written report, I will probably even have to double check my spelling and grammar. The report should be available early next week, I’ll provide a link when it is available.

Some More Numbers – Chicago Mayor Race

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Total Votes – Participation Rate:

There has been a lot of attention given to the fact that turnout last night was significantly lower than four years ago, which is true, however that year was a bit of an outlier and this year’s numbers track pretty closely to the 2007 and 2003 Chicago Municipal elections:

Reg Voters Tot Mayor Voters Participation Rate
Feb 2003 1,436,286 463,145 32.25%
Feb 2007 1,407,979 456,765 32.44%
Feb 2011 1,406,037 590,357 41.99%
Feb 2015 1,421,430 466,177 32.80%

With some valid late arriving vote by mail ballots left to be counted the total votes in the Mayor’s race last night currently stands at about 466K (very close to my projection last night) and a participation rate of a little under 33% on about 1.4 million registered voters. You can see that over the last four cycles the number of citywide registered voters has stayed within a band of 30,000 so it’s held pretty flat. The total vote last night held remarkably similar to 2003 and 2007. In other words last night’s election was nothing special, wasn’t a big turnout like 2011 and wasn’t a horrible one either, it just tracked well with other recent elections with an incumbent Mayor.

Projecting April’s Turnout:

Today I saw two schools of thought on the likely turnout for the April runoff: 1) the number of total voters in the Mayor’s race in the April runoff will be lower because a) there aren’t competitive aldermanic elections in every ward, b) some supporters of the candidates that did not qualify for the runoff will not vote and c) election fatigue. The other school of thought is 2) the number of total voters in the Mayor’s race in the April runoff will actually be higher than February because a) with a slimmed down field the campaign coverage will be more focused and more voters will be paying attention, b) the Mayor’s veil of invincibility has been pierced leading some disaffected voters to participate, c) the weather will be better and d) with fewer other races to distract the campaigns or dilute the campaign staffs more people will be working to drive up turnout.

I still tend to believe that the overall number of voters in the Mayor’s race in April will be lower than the total from February but I find the conversation interesting. We don’t have much historical data to work with, there hasn’t been a runoff in the Mayor’s race since the current format was put in place in 1999. However we can look at all of the aldermanic elections that went to runoff in the last three cycles and see how regularly the April runoffs featured more total voters than the February elections:

Year Ward Feb Total Apr Total Diff Diff %
2011 6 15,045 10,114 (4,931) -32.8%
2011 15 7,059 3,550 (3,509) -49.7%
2011 16 6,116 3,654 (2,462) -40.3%
2011 17 9,900 6,063 (3,837) -38.8%
2011 20 7,467 4,518 (2,949) -39.5%
2011 24 9,255 5,490 (3,765) -40.7%
2011 25 8,823 7,291 (1,532) -17.4%
2011 36 14,052 10,074 (3,978) -28.3%
2011 38 12,256 7,880 (4,376) -35.7%
2011 41 20,109 14,458 (5,651) -28.1%
2011 43 14,267 9,644 (4,623) -32.4%
2011 45 15,879 12,136 (3,743) -23.6%
2011 46 13,906 9,967 (3,939) -28.3%
2011 50 11,487 9,698 (1,789) -15.6%
2011 Combined 165,621 114,537 (51,084) -30.8%
2007 2 11,103 9,399 (1,704) -15.3%
2007 3 8,087 8,369 282 3.5%
2007 15 6,046 4,641 (1,405) -23.2%
2007 16 6,104 5,278 (826) -13.5%
2007 18 13,228 8,970 (4,258) -32.2%
2007 21 14,096 10,563 (3,533) -25.1%
2007 24 8,421 6,416 (2,005) -23.8%
2007 32 8,107 8,237 130 1.6%
2007 35 6,561 6,543 (18) -0.3%
2007 43 9,307 8,321 (986) -10.6%
2007 49 7,441 7,803 362 4.9%
2007 50 10,489 11,325 836 8.0%
2007 Combined 108,990 95,865 (13,125) -12.0%
2003 1 6,930 9,007 2,077 30.0%
2003 6 12,686 9,354 (3,332) -26.3%
2003 15 6,048 4,450 (1,598) -26.4%
2003 21 13,451 11,902 (1,549) -11.5%
2003 Combined 39,115 34,713 (4,402) -11.3%

Looking at the table above the general expectation for an aldermanic runoff is the April election will have fewer total votes than the February election, in fact the average for the 14 aldermanic runoffs of 2011 was about 31% lower (12% lower on average in 2007 and 11% lower on average in 2003). There are a few exceptions of course but it’s clear that April just has a lower participation rate.

However I would caution these totals are just for downballot aldermanic races. A runoff in a Mayor’s race is likely to lead most newscasts over the next 6 weeks. You’ll also see plenty of broadcast TV ads and heavy mail and likely phone calls or door knocks. The level of attention given to this runoff will be very different from these past aldermanic runoffs. No matter what your preferred theory is for turnout in April I don’t think the data rules out any possibility.

Two New Election Bills Signed Into Law

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Today outgoing Governor Pat Quinn signed two election bills into law, 1) HB4576, which passed both chambers during a special session on Thursday, that will allow for a special election for certain constitutional offices under certain circumstances and will result in a special election in 2016 for Comptroller to fill the remaining term of the late Judy Baar Topinka, and 2) SB172 the omnibus elections bill that was passed during veto session which has received the most attention for making same day registration permanent but also makes changes to vote by mail, early voting, college campus voting, vote counting procedures and election administrative changes.

For anyone who followed the lengthy vote counting process in the very close 2014 State Treasurer’s race SB172 includes some changes that will make more vote counting information available for any similar situations in the future. Here is a rundown for both bills.


This bill is pretty straightforward, this about covers it:

Provides that if there are more than 28 months remaining in the term of office for Secretary of State, State Comptroller, Treasurer or Attorney General, the appointed office holder shall serve until the next general election, at which time the office shall be filled by special election for the remainder of the term. Provides for nominations for special elections to fill the unexpired term of a vacant office. Effective immediately.



Voter Registration

  • Same Day Registration (Grace Period Registration): extends grace period registration up to and including election day. Election authorities in counties with a population of greater than 100,000 or election authorities that have electronic poll books must offer in-precinct same day registration. Election authorities in counties with a population less than 100,000 that do not have electronic poll books may opt out of in-precinct same day registration but they must offer same day registration at their main office and must include a location in any municipality where 20% or more of the county’s residents reside.
  • ERIC Registration: beginning in 2016 requires participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) system.
  • National Change of Address check: requires the SBE to perform a check of the Postal Service’s National Change of Address database to find voters who have moved. Voters who have changed their address will be automatically re-registered at their new address after being given an opportunity to opt out
  • State Websites: requires all executive department websites to link to the statewide online voter registration.
  • Phone App: requires the SBE to develop a phone app for voter registration.
  • Government Offices: requires that when a person is interacting with a state agency online or at their government office they can easily register to vote or update their registration.



  • Provisional Voting: a voter attempting same day registration on election day that does not have the necessary documentation may still vote provisionally. That voter will then have 7 days to submit the proper documentation to their election authority.
  • Early Voting: early voting now runs up to and including the day before election day. During the final week of early voting the locations must be open until 7pm on weekdays. Saturdays are 9am – noon and Sundays are 10am – 4pm. Permanent sites must offer grace period registration. Each election authority must provide the SBE a list of early voting locations and hours, the SBE will make this info available on their website.
  • Vote By Mail: ballots must now be postmarked no later than election day (it used to be the day before), ballots can be delivered by any carrier, ballots may be returned in person to the election authority by any authorized person (previously only family members) and election authorities must print the amount of postage required on the return envelope.
  • Campus Voting: early voting and grace period registration must be available in the student union Wed – Fri from 10am to 5pm before a general primary or general election but not during a consolidated election.


Vote Counting

  • Ballot Processing: election authorities may process ballots up to 15 days prior to election day but they may not count/tabulate the ballots until after the polls close.
  • Uncounted Ballot Disclosure: after election day each election authority must report to the SBE the number of uncounted ballots and the SBE must make this info available on their website.
  • Announcements: election authorities must provide at least 24 hours advance notice the date, time and location where they will analyze, cast or count any centrally located ballots and they must send email notification to anyone requesting notification.
  • Wrong Precinct: codifies current SBE rules regarding counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct.


Election Administration

  • Eliminates “Absentee Voting”: removes any references to “absentee voting” which is now obsolete and has been replaced by early voting and vote by mail.
  • Polling Places: requires election authorities to disclose polling places that designate their entire property as campaign free.
  • Petitions: clarifies the SBE’s jurisdiction over petitions for the General Assembly when the districts are not entirely within Cook County, sets the signature requirements for Chicago aldermen (473 signatures) and eliminates the requirement that statewide advisory referendum petitions must be segregated by election jurisdiction.
  • Election Judges: in Cook County the township and ward committeemen now have final approval of partisan election judges (used to be the county chairman).
  • “I Voted” Stickers: if an election authority distributes “I Voted” stickers must make them available to all voters.
  • Pollwatchers: cleaned up language on pollwatchers watching the casting of vote by mail ballots in a precinct on election day.

Updating the Treasurer’s Race (cont.)

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Illinois Treasurer’s Race Tracker

UPDATE: 11/15 (11:00am)

I checked every election authority that has public data on a website this morning and the only further update was in Clark county where 3 new votes were added, all for Tom Cross. The new margin is Cross by 381 votes.

Also, Tom Kacich of the Champaign News-Gazette has some more information about the votes expected to be made public early next week in east central Illinois.

Later this afternoon I will have some info on what to expect this upcoming week when the clerks finalize their totals.

End of Update.

UPDATE: 11/14 (5:00pm)

I was told about some additional counties that had updated numbers, here is what I have found:

  • Wabash County – according to the employees in the county clerk’s office they found that they had accidentally counted some votes twice so after a careful review their updated numbers actually declined. There was a net total vote reduction of 690 votes over what was previously publicly reported and Cross lost a net of 306 votes. I am told that these will be their final numbers.
  • Livingston County – there were a total of 51 new votes over what was previously publicly reported and Cross gained 10 votes.
  • Piatt County – there were a total of 21 new votes over what was previously publicly reported and Cross gained 10 votes. Per their website these should be their final totals.
  • I was also told that DeWitt, Jasper, Marshall, Pope and Richland had updated numbers however Marshall and DeWitt do not have new totals on their websites, the rest don’t have websites and by the time I was able to call all of them their offices were already closed. I will hopefully find time to call them when they reopen on Monday.

I will check everything again most likely tomorrow. I will also put up an explanation about what to expect for next week.

End of Update.

UPDATE: 11/14 (1:00pm)

I was told that Hancock County had updated numbers so I called during lunch and sure enough they do. They added 511 votes over what was previously publicly available and Cross gained 127 votes. They also said this was their final count and would have no further updates. The current margin is Tom Cross by 664 votes.

I will check everything again either tonight or more likely tomorrow.

End of Update.

UPDATE: 11/13 (6:00pm)

I went through all of the election authorities that have a website and data again tonight and here is the update:

  • Kane County (only, not including Aurora) – there were a total of 564 new votes over what was previously publicly reported and Cross gained 44 votes.
  • Lee County – there were a total of 18 new votes over what was previously publicly reported and Cross gained 2 votes.

The current margin is Tom Cross by 537 votes.

End of Update.

UPDATE: 11/12 (9:00pm)

I went through all of the election authorities that have a website and data again tonight and 1 vote was updated. One vote. It was in Ogle County and it went to Frerichs so the difference changed by 1 vote, now it’s Tom Cross by 491 votes.

End of Update.

Previous Updates

The Difference Between the Treasurer’s Race and the Governor’s Race

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With so much attention being paid to the Treasurer’s race and the ballots being counted/updated in Cook County you could be forgiven for thinking that Cook County is the only area where ballots are still being counted, it is not. All 102 counties (and all 110 election authorities) are still counting late arriving vote by mail ballots, same day registration ballots and valid provisional ballots. Both Cook County and the Chicago Board of Elections have been updating their totals as they count their ballots and they are also giving us some public updates about how many ballots they have left to count, which is why we are seeing so much discussion of their totals. But the truth is every county is going through the exact same process, most of them are just not updating their totals while they’re doing it and they’re not likely to give us any updates until 11/18 when they stop accepting vote by mail ballots.

Analyzing the difference between the Treasurer’s race and the Governor’s race is suffering from the same Cook County focus, the most significant portion of the explanation lies elsewhere. When you look at the unofficial totals in the Governor’s race and the Treasurer’s race you’ll see:

  • In Cook County Tom Cross underperformed Bruce Rauner by about 2 points while Mike Frerichs and Pat Quinn ran essentially the same, within 0.2% of each other. The difference in Cook County is the Libertarian candidate in the Treasurer’s race got almost 2 points more than the Libertarian candidate in the Governor’s race in Cook County and since Frerichs and Quinn received essentially the same percentage here this basically came out of Cross’ pocket.
  • In the 5 traditional collar counties Cross underperformed Rauner by almost 2.5 points while Frerichs did better than Quinn by a little more than half a point.
  • In the downstate 96 counties the gap was the most pronounced, Cross underperformed Rauner by 3.5 points while Frerichs did better than Quinn by more than 4 points.

The difference maker in this race is downstate, not Cook County.

Here’s a table that shows the difference between the party candidates for Treasurer and Governor (sorted by Republican underperformance):

County Dem Rep Lib
Vermilion 22.24% -19.05% -3.19%
Adams 14.46% -13.41% -1.06%
Douglas 14.43% -12.59% -1.86%
Pike 13.77% -11.79% -1.99%
Piatt 13.01% -11.43% -1.59%
Champaign 12.03% -11.13% -0.91%
Marion 12.55% -10.75% -1.81%
White 10.65% -10.08% -0.57%
Hancock 11.81% -9.58% -2.23%
Ford 11.28% -9.54% -1.72%
Moultrie 9.84% -8.33% -1.52%
Iroquois 9.10% -8.26% -0.84%
Gallatin 9.98% -8.19% -1.80%
Calhoun 9.88% -8.11% -1.76%
Edgar 10.21% -8.09% -2.13%
Clinton 8.79% -8.08% -0.71%
Kankakee 7.03% -7.65% 0.62%
Wayne 7.17% -7.35% 0.18%
Scott 10.27% -7.20% -3.07%
Macoupin 9.07% -7.11% -1.95%
Shelby 9.78% -7.07% -2.72%
Jasper 8.75% -6.80% -1.95%
Brown 9.16% -6.52% -2.65%
Schuyler 7.91% -5.99% -1.92%
Monroe 5.50% -5.92% 0.42%
Pulaski 8.08% -5.80% -2.28%
Jersey 6.82% -5.65% -1.17%
Union 7.07% -5.57% -1.51%
Henderson 6.40% -5.56% -0.85%
Alexander 9.44% -5.48% -3.96%
Franklin 7.16% -5.35% -1.82%
Christian 8.09% -5.14% -2.95%
Mason 8.48% -4.78% -3.70%
Madison 4.83% -4.69% -0.14%
Washington 6.40% -4.59% -1.81%
McHenry 2.56% -4.56% 1.99%
Macon 5.50% -4.53% -0.97%
Greene 6.72% -4.52% -2.21%
Edwards 4.95% -4.37% -0.58%
Hamilton 6.40% -4.25% -2.14%
Clay 6.43% -4.17% -2.26%
Montgomery 6.63% -4.11% -2.53%
Cumberland 5.39% -3.97% -1.42%
Effingham 5.04% -3.94% -1.10%
Bond 5.27% -3.80% -1.46%
Stephenson 3.89% -3.62% -0.27%
Lake 1.95% -3.53% 1.58%
McDonough 4.70% -3.51% -1.18%
St. Clair 3.20% -3.46% 0.26%
Jefferson 4.49% -3.33% -1.18%
DeWitt 4.15% -3.32% -0.83%
Fayette 5.23% -3.17% -2.06%
Randolph 4.93% -2.94% -1.99%
Coles 4.45% -2.92% -1.54%
Rock Island 2.73% -2.87% 0.14%
Whiteside 3.19% -2.86% -0.33%
Marshall 4.57% -2.85% -1.72%
Perry 4.34% -2.79% -1.54%
Clark 4.76% -2.78% -1.99%
Mercer 3.73% -2.72% -1.00%
Kane 0.62% -2.34% 1.72%
DuPage 0.32% -2.32% 2.00%
Wabash 2.10% -2.24% 0.15%
DeKalb 0.71% -2.22% 1.51%
Fulton 4.95% -2.15% -2.80%
Henry 2.64% -2.06% -0.58%
LaSalle 1.19% -2.01% 0.82%
Winnebago 1.69% -1.98% 0.29%
Cook 0.18% -1.94% 1.75%
Carroll 2.37% -1.90% -0.46%
Peoria 2.69% -1.81% -0.88%
Richland 2.68% -1.81% -0.86%
Grundy 1.49% -1.68% 0.19%
Jackson 2.10% -1.55% -0.54%
Saline 3.73% -1.42% -2.31%
Boone 0.56% -1.32% 0.75%
McLean 1.09% -1.30% 0.21%
Tazewell 3.12% -1.30% -1.81%
Crawford 3.79% -1.28% -2.51%
Putnam 2.37% -1.16% -1.19%
Williamson 1.49% -1.10% -0.38%
JoDaviess 0.14% -1.09% 0.95%
Cass 3.77% -1.04% -2.72%
Woodford 2.40% -1.01% -1.38%
Stark 2.24% -0.88% -1.36%
Lawrence 2.18% -0.50% -1.69%
Morgan 2.49% -0.44% -2.05%
Will -1.14% -0.13% 1.27%
Bureau 0.31% -0.04% -0.28%
Pope 1.31% 0.45% -1.76%
Knox 0.55% 0.51% -1.06%
Warren 0.41% 0.52% -0.93%
Massac -0.87% 0.66% 0.21%
Hardin 2.31% 0.71% -3.02%
Ogle -1.04% 0.90% 0.14%
Johnson 0.27% 1.62% -1.89%
Kendall -4.26% 3.04% 1.23%
Lee -2.11% 3.16% -1.05%
Menard -2.02% 3.53% -1.51%
Livingston -1.76% 3.94% -2.18%
Sangamon -2.51% 4.08% -1.57%
Logan -1.44% 4.19% -2.75%

Two things stand out, 1) Cross only outperformed Rauner in 13 of 102 counties, and the two most favorable were Sangamon and Logan where a lot of state workers live; and 2) while some of the counties where Cross most underperformed Rauner include parts of Frerichs’ senate district like Vermilion and Champaign counties they also include other parts of the state like far western Adams County, southwestern Pike County and southern Marion and White counties.

Even in Cross’ home base of Kendall County he only outperformed Rauner by about 3 points whereas there were 12 counties where Frerichs outperformed Quinn by more than 10 points. The downstate vote makes up the lion’s share of the difference in these two races, Cross was unable to match Rauner’s example and Frerichs outperformed Quinn throughout.

Cook County is getting all the attention right now simply because they’re offering the most information but if you really want to understand why this race is incredibly close and the Governor’s race wasn’t the explanation mostly lies in the other 101 counties.

Updated Data: All Maps (by Candidate)

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You can now see MAPS for all candidates in an election instead of just one. I’m very, very happy to be able to share this latest update, this was something that really bothered me from the day this site went live almost a year ago. Even now the Google software used to generate these maps is officially listed as “experimental” so it should come as no surprise that certain functionality was limited or unavailable when I first launched this site but unfortunately the only workaround would have involved an incredibly labor intensive process so I just waited. Now I’m very happy to be able to visually display all of the data I wanted.

Previously for each race that MAPS were available you could only see the map for one candidate in each race, you could at best then infer how the opposition performed but the limitation was frustrating. Now you can see the performance map for all the candidates. So for example if you happen to remember that in 2006 the Rockford Register Star was fed up with the Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor and instead endorsed Green Party candidate Rich Whitney you can look at this map and see what effect that endorsement had.

So far all the map data has been for general elections only but now I can and will add all the statewide primaries. That will probably take a few weeks (I just do this in my spare time) but I want to have it done before the NHL playoffs start and I’m sure March Madness will make it harder to find some free time.

After I get the statewide primary maps up I’d like to add more to the Chicago Aldermanic data set. The 2011 elections are already in there but I’ve always been meaning to add 2007 and 2003. So that’s the update plan for now. As always I hope you find this information useful. Let me know if you find any errors or have any requests.

2014 IL-GOV/LT GOV: How Does it Work?

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There have been a few changes in the law that will affect how the Governor and Lt. Governor will be elected in 2014. I’ll cover those changes and their impact below but I’m still left with one unanswered question: can a Lt. Governor candidate raise and spend funds in support of his/her election and if so how does that work?

Let me begin by saying I’m not an election attorney (or attorney of any kind for that matter) so just because I have unanswered questions isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. However two key changes in the election code will be in effect for the first time in a Governor’s race for the 2014 election:

  1. Contribution limits – the law implementing contribution limits went into effect January 1, 2011 for the start of the 2012 election cycle. The law limits a candidate for elected office to a single “candidate political committee” and provides for contribution limits of amounts depending on the donor type and the office sought. The language on candidate committees and contribution limits can be found in Article 9 of the election code.
  2. Joint nomination of candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor – in 2010 HB5820 which became Public Act 96-1018 changed the election law so that the Governor and Lt. Governor would appear on a primary ballot as a team and be voted on as a joint pair. This bill was passed in the aftermath of the messy divorce between Democratic nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and Scott Lee Cohen in the 2010 primary. As you can see from reading the public act the language provides a mechanism for how the process is supposed to work to nominate a joint ticket of Governor and Lt. Governor and is silent on other concerns with this new situation.

Prior to either of these laws going into effect the Governor and Lt. Governor were elected separately and because there were no contribution limits either candidate or both could have as many committees as they wanted. Sometimes candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor would agree to campaign as a team (even though both would still be required to win independent elections) and other times the elections for Governor and Lt. Governor went forward with the candidates willing to let the elections play out and deal with any outcome.

In 2006 Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz agreed to campaign with Lt. Governor Candidate Steve Rauschenberger and even though each candidate had their own candidate committee for their campaign funds (Gidwitz for Governor and Citizens for Rauschenberger, respectively) they also decided to create a 3rd joint committee called the Illinois Turnaround Team for funds that would ostensibly be used to pay for campaign activities to support both candidates. I can’t think of any legal advantage gained by creating a 3rd committee, it seemed to be only for cosmetic purposes as they campaigned publicly as part of a team (a turnaround team) working jointly. Ultimately both candidates were unsuccessful in their respective primaries but it’s a good example of the various options that were available to candidates prior to the new laws going into effect.

In the 2010 Democratic primary the campaigns for Governor and Lt. Governor proceeded independently and in the end Pat Quinn secured the Gubernatorial nomination while Scott Lee Cohen was the victorious Lt. Governor candidate. Cohen later dropped out after pressure by Quinn and other Democratic leaders. Subsequently the Democratic party selected Shelia Simon as a replacement candidate at Quinn’s behest. Simon could have legally created a campaign committee to raise and spend funds in support of this election however she never opened one in her own name. Quinn has had the longstanding Taxpayers for Quinn committee and also in the spring of 2010 they created a committee called Quinn/Simon for Illinois which was used to raise and spend a significant amount of funds in support of the Quinn/Simon ticket that fall. Again this joint committee doesn’t appear to have provided the Quinn/Simon campaign with any additional legal advantages it simply had the cosmetic effect of a ticket working together.

Looking ahead to 2014 it appears that the law that implemented campaign contribution limits for the first time will also prevent the creation of these additional joint committees as a candidate is limited to one and only one candidate committee:

(10 ILCS 5/9-2) (from Ch. 46, par. 9-2)
Sec. 9-2. Political committee designations.
(a) Every political committee shall be designated as a (i) candidate political committee, (ii) political party committee, (iii) political action committee, (iv) ballot initiative committee, or (v) independent expenditure committee.
(b) Beginning January 1, 2011, no public official or candidate for public office may maintain or establish more than one candidate political committee for each office that public official or candidate holds or is seeking. The name of each candidate political committee shall identify the name of the public official or candidate supported by the candidate political committee. If a candidate establishes separate candidate political committees for each public office, the name of each candidate political committee shall also include the public office to which the candidate seeks nomination for election, election, or retention. If a candidate establishes one candidate political committee for multiple offices elected at different elections, then the candidate shall designate an election cycle, as defined in Section 9-1.9, for purposes of contribution limitations and reporting requirements set forth in this Article. No political committee, other than a candidate political committee, may include the name of a candidate in its name.

What is less clear is how the law applies to someone running for Lt. Governor. Here are a number of questions that immediately come to mind:

  • Now that a candidate for Lt. Governor is no longer elected independently are these candidates still allowed to raise and spend funds in support of their own election (primary and general)?
  • If yes, can they accept contributions from donors that have already maxed out to the Gubernatorial candidate they will be nominated with?
  • If yes, are they allowed to coordinate all of their electoral activities with the Gubernatorial candidate they will be nominated with including making joint fundraising appeals for twice the legal limit (half to the Gubernatorial committee/half to the Lt. Governor committee) and fully coordinated spending decisions from both committee accounts?
  • Pay to play legislation outlawed campaign contributions to any candidate for an office where the donor has been awarded a contract by that officeholder. Could a Lt. Governor candidate accept contributions from donors that are prohibited from giving to a gubernatorial candidate under this provision? Could they then spend those funds in support of their ticket? Can they coordinate that spending decision with the Gubernatorial candidate they will be nominated with and who would not be legally allowed to accept such a donation?

It’s entirely possible all of these questions have very clear answers explicitly stated in the law, I’m not an election attorney and even though I have a lot of experience dealing with the Illinois election code I freely admit I’m no expert. But if some of these questions don’t have clear answers hopefully the legislature can use the upcoming spring session to clarify the election code prior to the 2014 election cycle kicking into full gear.

Welcome to Illinois Election Data

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Welcome to Illinois Election Data, a data driven website I’ve created to share and display useful campaign data on Illinois elections. During my time working on campaigns I have amassed a very large number of files on Illinois election data. Having been through this exercise so many times I know how difficult and time consuming it can be to have to build the same data files over and over and I have a lot of sympathy for those who have to do so. I created this site to try to provide a lot of the basic data in an easy to see, understand and use format to help the overworked campaign staffers who work too many hours.

There is quite a bit of information in this site:

  • MAPS – Click on MAPS to select various types of vote total maps with the results color coded on top of Google Maps.
  • VOTE ANALYSIS – Click on VOTE ANALYSIS to see spreadsheet style data on election results, vote share and/or turnout organized by county, ward, township, media market and/or region.
  • BUDGETS – Click on BUDGETS to see monthly line item fundraising and spending for previous campaigns as well as payroll and media buys.
  • REDISTRICTING – Click on REDISTRICTING to overlay various maps to see how they are different. You can look at the new ward, congressional, state house, or state senate boundaries and see how they compare to the old boundaries, or with each other or even with county boundaries.

If you have any questions check the FAQ for more info.

Over time I plan to add more data and occasionally use this blog to highlight or add some depth to some data I find particularly interesting. If you want to keep an eye out for updates to this site feel free to follow its Twitter feed (see right hand sidebar), new posts will automatically be tweeted as well. Enjoy.