Five polling places in Chicago were extending voting in the city’s mayoral runoff election Tuesday after they opened late, a power outage forced voters to handwrite their ballots, and three poll workers were relieved from their duty for “abusive or erratic conduct,” according to NBC Chicago and DNAinfo. The election pits Mayor Rahm Emanuel against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County commissioner who surprised political observers when he forced Emanuel into a runoff in November.
Voting was extended to 8 p.m. local time at two precincts in Chicago’s 1st Ward as well as three others in the 41st, 42nd and 46th wards, DNAinfo reported, citing Elections Board Chairman Langdon Neal. He said the polling places opened 30 minutes late.
Chicago normally has paperless voting, but a power outage Tuesday morning in the suburb of Cicero led to paper ballots being handed out to voters, NBC Chicago reported. The power outage was believed to be caused by a fire, and paper ballots were scheduled to be used until electricity could be restored, Cook County Clerk David Orr told the station.
Another polling place reported no heat in the building, so election officials said they were sending a space heater to the location.
Meanwhile, three election judges were taken off their posts for “abusive or erratic conduct,” Neal told DNAinfo. One of the judges refused to take off their headphones while working, the website reported.
Emanuel, the city’s incumbent mayor, failed to push through the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff against fellow Democrat Garcia despite being endorsed by President Barack Obama, who is from Chicago and cut his political teeth there. Progressive Democrats endorsed Garcia, who also had the backing of the city’s teachers' union after Emanuel closed 50 underperforming or underutilized schools in Chicago. Emanuel received 46 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 34 percent.
In pre-Election Day polls, Emanuel widened his lead over Garcia. A survey released April 4 by Ogden and Fry showed the mayor with 51 percent support to Garcia’s 31 percent, with 15 percent undecided.