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Runoff... How the votes finally tallied up from the May 21 Chicago Teachers Union election

LEAD STORY FROM PAGE ONE OF THE JUNE 2010 PRINT EDITION OF SUBSTANCE. At about 9:00 p.m. on May 24, 2010, officials of the American Arbitration Association distributed a three-page “Certification of Results” to canvassers and observers who had been present during the long count of ballots from the Chicago Teachers Union election, which had been held on May 21, 2010, the previous Friday.

CORE candidate for President of the Chicago Teachers Union at the May 25, 2010, marches and rallies against the cuts in public schools. Substance photo by David Vance.The Certification stated the results for each of the thirteen candidates for the citywide offices, from each of the five caucuses, beginning with the candidates for President of the CTU.

The results were itemized by ballot position:

Deborah Lynch (PACT) — 3,505 votes

Theodore M. Hajiharis (SEA) — 1,205 votes

Marilyn Stewart (UPC) — 6,853 votes

Linda C. Porter (CSDU) — 1,370 votes

Karen Lewis (CORE) — 6,336

Because no candidate had a majority of the votes, the union election rules required that a runoff be held between the two candidates with the highest number of votes.

Observers and canvassers who asked for the full tally of the voting for all offices were told that it would be published by the CTU on the CTU website “soon.” Observers and canvassers from opposition caucuses were told they were not entitled to the full digital record at the time theyleft AAA.

Karen Lewis (above right) speaking to the CORE organizing meeting on May 24 following the announcement that CORE and UPC are in a runoff for the leadership of the CTU. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.The problems for those who were trying to figure out what had happened during the most hotly contested election in the 75-year history of the Chicago Teachers Union were just beginning.

The long count and the big confusion

Two days earlier, on May 22, 2010, it had become clear that the two slates facing one another in the runoff would be UPC and CORE. At 8:42 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010, officials of the Chicago Teachers Union and the American Arbitration Association announced the final count of the majority of the ballots — not all of them, and minus 35 schools that were missing — that were marked for the slates in the May 21 CTU election.

The Saturday May 22 election results, while not complete, indicated that there would be a runoff between the two slates with the highest number of votes, the United Progressive Caucus (UPC) led by incumbent CTU president Marilyn Stewart, and the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE), led by King High School Chemistry teacher Karen Lewis.

The union leadership had previously announced that the runoff would be held on Friday, June 11, 2010, if no one candidate or caucus got a majority of the votes, as required by the union’s election rules.

But the actual results of the voting, which had been completed in all of the city’s more than 600 public schools (and other locations where union teachers and other school workers were at work on May 21) by early afternoon on Friday May 21 were far from complete.

In fact, one week after the last votes were cast, the majority of the union’s members still didn’t know answers to some of the simplest questions. Some of the problems were to be expected, given the huge size of the slates. How many votes had been cast for each candidate? Precisely how many were tallied for each of the more than 900 candidates for the various offices? How many schools had not voted? How many schools had voted but had not had their votes counted?

But a significant problem was that officials of the Chicago Teachers Union had failed to provide procedures and technology to make a more efficient and less controversial system possible. Preliminary results showed a runoff for most offices

Because of the nature of percentages in the five-way race, the May 22 preliminary results were enough to assure informed observers that there would be a runoff between the two top vote getters for the citywide offices — 13 in all — that were being contested on May 21.

But anyone who expected that the vote counts would be completed and the results posted on the website of the Chicago Teachers Union over the weekend following the election were disappointed, if not angry (as many were). The final count wasn’t even completed until late on May 24 — three days after the voting had ended.

By the end of the May 21 – May 22 counting, officials at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) had also informed those observing the counting (including this reporter, who was an official observer for CORE) that 34 or 35 schools had not been collected by a courier service hired to pick up the ballot boxes at the schools across the city.

According to CTU officials, the 34 ballot boxes had been “missed” and were assumed to be locked up at the schools for the weekend. But nobody could or would check to find out whether that was true or not. The official counting of the ballots was thus scheduled to resume on the afternoon of Monday, May 24, at the AAA offices at 225 N. Michigan.

So, those who were trying to pay close attention (including all five candidates) knew enough to know that there were two front runners, neither of whom had a majority, and three also-rans. The May 22 results of all the “straight slate” ballots counted through were as follows:

PACT..... 3,144 votes (ProActive Chicago Teachers and school employees, whose presidential candidate was former CTU president Deborah Lynch).

SEA..... 1,127 votes (School Employee Alliance Caucus, whose presidential candidate was Ted Hajiharis).

UPC..... 6,283 votes (32.26 percent of slate votes). United Progressive Caucus, whose presidential candidate is Marilyn Stewart.

CSDU..... 1,273 votes (Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union, whose presidential candidate was Linda Porter).

CORE..... 5970 votes (30.65 percent of slate votes) (Caucus Of Rank and file Educators, whose presidential candidate is Karen Lewis).

Given the statistical realities, the percentages were unlikely to change, and didn’t. But because some of the candidates for lesser offices were running with much smaller margins, each candidate had the right to know what his total was against his or her opponents.

The total number of votes cast for the "slates" of candidates was 17,797. Officials announced that the total number of ballots counted as of the morning of May 22, 2010, was 19,477. The difference is ballots where voters split their ballots between candidates from different caucuses. More were to come.

The American Arbitration Association (AAA) handled the election under contract from the Chicago Teachers Union and did the vote counting at their offices at 225 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago.

The schools whose ballot boxes were not at the AAA on the night of May 21- 22 were: Attucks; Austin Polytechnic; Big Picture; Canty: Carter; Clay; Cockrell CPC; Dever; Dirksen; Durkin Park; Fiske; Global Vision; Gray; Grimes; Grisholm; Hampton; Hanson Park; Henry; IDOC Healy South; Johnson; Kellman; Las Casas; Marsh; New Sullivan; Penn; Piccolo; Revere; Ross; Stock; Taylor; J.N. Thorp; Tonti Annex; VOISE; Warren. Also on the list was the “Englewood Achievement Academy” which voted with TEAM Englewood High School. A hand written list of those schools had been circulated among the observers and canvassers, but the final list was not provided to observers in printed form until May 24.

After learning of the large number of ballot boxes that were not at the count, the canvassing committee voted to ask the AAA to return to those schools and pick up the boxes that people assumed had been left in the schools because of delays in the pickups that were noted in several places in the city.

During the week following the May 21, 2010, CTU election, SubstanceNews carried more than a dozen news reports and dozens more “Comments” at www.substancenews.net. The print edition of Substance (which you are holding in your hands) is publishing the best available tallies of the votes, school by school, for the president. But as of May 30, when the print edition went to press, the CTU still had not fully explained the various voting in the various groups. Substance will update this information as the June 11 runoff draws closer.

[Full disclosure: George N. Schmidt is a CTU retiree delegate and served as a CORE observer at the AAA for the vote count on May 21 - 22, 2010. 



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