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Randy Leonard/MEDILL

Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal said Tuesday that the Supreme Court's moves indicate that Rahm Emanuel will likely be on the final ballot.

After cacophony, ballot music turning beautiful for Yo-yo Rahm

by Randy Leonard
Jan 25, 2011

Randy Leonard/MEDILL

Protesters met outside the Chicago Board of Elections Monday to show their support for Rahm Emanuel.

He’s on. He’s off. He’s back on – for now.

In a move, called lightning-quick and unprecedented by the head of Chicago elections, the state Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to give quick attention to Rahm Emanuel’s candidacy appeal.

The order to put Emanuel’s name back on the ballot indicates that the court will likely side in his favor, according to Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections.

“We now have a reasonable degree of certainty with respect to our ballot,” Neal said Tuesday. The board’s contractor, following the appellate court order, printed about 300,000 ballots without Emanuel’s name Tuesday morning, Neal said.

The Supreme Court issued a stay in the case around noon, ordering Emanuel’s name back on the ballot.

“Now they’re reformatting the ballot to include the name,” Neal said Tuesday afternoon.

Neal said no matter when or how the final ruling falls, the election will move forward.

“We’ll make it happen, pretty much under any circumstances,” he said. He did not anticipate that the polling date would be moved back, which would require a court order, Neal said.

It will take five to seven days to print, dry, cut and package the 2 million ballots for the Feb. 22 election and about another week to distribute the ballots to the precincts, Neal said. Standard voting could progress relatively unchanged if the court reaches a decision before Monday, Neal said.

 Grace-period voters who did not register before Tuesday will be able to register Wednesday and, rather than immediately voting electronically, will be given an application for an absentee ballot, while voting machines are reprogrammed, Neal said.

He expected to have paper absentee ballots to be sent out Friday.

With early voting beginning next Tuesday, Neal encouraged any early voters to wait if they have questions or doubts about Emanuel’s status. “There are no do-overs,” he said. “Once you vote, that’s it.”

Neal said the board’s chief concern is the voters not being or feeling disenfranchised. “We’re the voice of the voters,” he said, and his agency’s worry is “that the process seems transparent, clear, and understandable to our voters.”

Lincoln Park resident John Formanek  showed up at the board offices on Tuesday, the last day to register, to update his address. He said he had not heard about Emanuel being put back on the ballot.

“I’ll probably vote for him,” despite the uncertain status, Formanek said.

Another Chicago resident said he was less trusting.

“The whole thing is suspicious,” David Fitz said.

Beyond questions of Emanuel’s residency, Fitz, who said he had considered voting for Emanuel, questioned how Emanuel raised more than $10 million for his campaign and said his attitude rubbed him the wrong way.

“It’s like he’s just taking over a dictatorship,” Fitz said, adding that he likely would vote for Gery Chico.