Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rep. Rush Joins Federal Lawsuit to End "Inactive" Registered Voter Status

Feb 18, 2003
Press Release

Chicago, IL ---- This morning, U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) announced the filing of a federal lawsuit demanding that the Chicago Board of Elections discontinue their arbitrary policy of deeming registered voters "inactive," thereby denying them their right to nominate a candidate for elected office. Joining Rep. Rush as a plaintiff in this lawsuit are: Rep. Danny Davis (D-7th), Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-2nd), Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., State Sen. James Meeks (D-15th), Rev. Walter Turner, and nine voters whose signatures were deemed invalid.

The lawsuit was filed in response to last week's Board of Election decision to invalidate the signatures of approximately 12-thousand registered voters who signed the nominating petitions of City Clerk Candidate William Dock Walls III. As a result of their decision, Walls' signatures fell short of the 25-thousand he needed to be listed on the ballot.

According to the Board, inactive voters are deemed as such when they have not voted in the last two elections. "The Board's policy has no basis in state or federal election law. All it does is disenfranchise voters and violate their rights under the Voting Rights Act," said Rep. Rush. "We also know that the policy is applied on an arbitrary basis because there are some municipal candidates whose nominating petitions have "inactive" voters on them yet, those signatures have not been invalidated."

This egregious violation of the Voting Rights Act is one of several issues addressed in the lawsuit. The suit asks the court to:

  • Suspend next week's election until there has been a decision in the Walls case.
  • Direct the Board of Elections to assess and determine how many registered voters are considered inactive and denied their opportunity to nominate an individual for candidacy.
  • Require the Board to discontinue their inactive voter policy.
  • Award damages to those voters who have been disenfranchised.

Rep. Rush joined the lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of registered voters whose signatures were invalidated. "This is reminiscent of the problems we saw in Florida and here, in Chicago, during the 2000 presidential election. We can not stand idly by and allow voters to be disenfranchised again," stated Rep. Rush.

Judge James Moran has agreed to hear arguments in the case on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 at 9:00a.m. in Courtroom 1846 of the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn.