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Chicago mayor term-limit referendum not allowed on ballot

Former Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to place a binding referendum question on the November ballot seeking to put term limits on Chicago mayors is ineligible to appear because the City Council put three other referendums on the fall ballot, a Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer said Monday.

The hearing officer also ruled against Quinn’s measure on the basis that he asked more than one question on his petitions. Quinn’s petition included the term-limits question and also asked about an elected city “Consumer Advocate.”

Quinn responded Monday that he “strongly” disagrees with the recommendation and said he’s prepared to fight in court.

The referendum question at issue would ask voters whether Chicago mayors should be limited to two terms.

The objection to Quinn’s petitions involves three key questions: whether he collected enough valid signatures, whether the City Council’s putting three referendums on the ballot prohibits Quinn’s and whether there can be two referendum questions on one petition.

Aldermen voted this summer to put three nonbinding questions before Chicago voters in November.

A state law limits the number of questions on each ballot to three.

The council’s batch would leave no space for Quinn’s. The former governor says his binding referendum is unaffected by the three-question rule because it’s a constitutionally protected right of voters to limit the number of terms their mayors can serve.

It’s a common tactic for mayoral allies to fill the ballot with uncontroversial questions like the aldermen did. That way, they and Emanuel can’t get embarrassed by the results of questions they don’t want.

A final decision from the Chicago Board of Elections is still pending.


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