Early Voting Temporarily Paused in Chicago to Remove Candidate From Illinois Primary Ballot

File photo of voting booths in Chicago. (WTTW News) File photo of voting booths in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Update, Feb. 19: Early voting in Chicago is set to resume Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m. after the pause, the Chicago Board of Elections announced Monday.

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The two early voting sites that initially opened Feb. 15 were temporarily shut down Friday evening to allow the Chicago Board of Elections to reprogram and re-proof touchscreen voting machines, so they would no longer include a judicial candidate who a court earlier Friday ruled should not be on the ballot.

The elections board said in a release Monday afternoon that that work will be done in time for early voting to resume at 9 a.m. on Feb. 21.

Original story below: 

One day after Chicago voters were able to cast early votes in the March 19 Illinois primary, city election officials had to shut down operations.

The Chicago Board of Elections announced the temporary pause Friday.

It’s not due to a mistake, malfeasance or technical error; rather, the voting machines have to be updated because a local judicial candidate, Democrat Ashonta Rice, was just knocked off the ballot by an appellate court.

“To comply with this court order, the Chicago Board of Elections must reprogram all Early Voting touchscreen machines to reflect this change,” the elections board said in a news release.

Rice was removed from the ballot Jan. 30, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records, but Friday’s court action makes that final.

WTTW News 2024 Illinois Primary Voter Guide

Data from the Chicago Board of Elections shows 314 people cast their ballots in the less than 48 hours since early voting became available in the city, and 50 vote-by-mail ballots were returned.

Voters who chose Rice won’t be tallied unless the Illinois Supreme Court says otherwise, elections board spokesman Max Bever said.

Rice’s removal leaves one candidate for the position: James Murphy-Aguilu, who was appointed to a circuit court judge position in July.

The Chicago Board of Elections said the two locations where early voting is available to Chicago voters — the Loop Supersite at 191 N. Clark St. and the board’s offices on the sixth floor of 69 W. Washington St. — “will remain closed until further notice. Board staff are working to reopen these sites as soon as possible.”

Ongoing cases could also determine whether former President Donald Trump will be on the ballot for the GOP nomination for the White House.

A handful of Illinois voters filed a lawsuit seeking to remove him from the race. They argue he’s not constitutionally qualified because his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. capitol means he participated in an insurrection.

A Cook County judge on Friday heard arguments in the case, in which Trump’s attorneys are fighting the allegation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to determine whether Colorado can remove Trump from the ballot, after that state’s high court ruled he’s an insurrectionist who violated the U.S. Constitution.

“We’ll have to cross that bridge if there are specific court orders related to the Trump case,” Bever said in an email.

Democratic vote-by-mail ballots haven’t been mailed yet, according to the city’s elections board, though Republican, Libertarian and nonpartisan ballots were sent.

Additional early voting locations are slated to open in Chicago wards starting March 4. That’s also when traditional voting for suburban Cook County opens. Starting Feb. 21, suburban Cook County voters can cast early ballots on weekdays at 69 W. Washington St. in Chicago.

Contact Amanda Vinicky: @AmandaVinicky[email protected]

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