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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Court Interprets "Sore Loser" Candidacy Rule

We are likely to see a lot of election cases over the next few months, as the local election season is under way. In today's case, the appellate court takes a look at the "sore loser" law in the Election Code. That law states that a candidate who files nomination papers as a partisan candidate in the primary election and is defeated cannot then file to be a write-in candidate in the general election for that same position. The question in this case was whether the "sore loser" law applies to just any office or the same office for which the candidate filed at the primary. In Ahmad v. Board of Election Commissioners of Chicago, 2016 IL App (1st) 162811, the court held that the law applies only to the same position (or in that case, vacancy).

Maryam Ahmad ran as a Democratic candidate for election to fill the judicial vacancy of Judge Brim. She was defeated at the primary election. She subsequently filed as a write-in candidate for the judicial vacancy of Judge Hopkins for the general election. The Chicago Board of Elections rejected Judge Ahmad's write-in declaration, finding that she was disqualified under the "sore loser" law because she had been defeated at the primary election. She appealed, and the court issued an expedited ruling to allow her to be listed as a write-in candidate.

The case returned to the appellate court when another candidate for the same vacancy appealed this determination. The appellate court again ruled in favor of Ahmad, finding that her second candidacy did not give Ahmad a "second bite at the apple" because her first loss was not for the same race as her second candidacy.  In short, the court stated that multiple vacancies in a judicial subcircuit are different positions, and the sore loser rule did not apply in these circumstances. 

Post authored by Julie Tappendorf


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