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HomeIllinois PoliticsDisability rights attorney calls for fairness in petition signature effort

Disability rights attorney calls for fairness in petition signature effort



ProfileAUDS4CSTREAMWOOD – Andrew U.D. Straw, an attorney recovering from broken legs and pelvis, is a Streamwood Republican that practices disability rights law. He is not happy that the Illinois State Board of Elections excluded his name from the March 15th GOP ballot after an objection was filed.

He wants back on.

Because of an accident and the injuries he has sustained, Straw is unable to walk normally. Those injuries hampered his efforts to run for Congress in the 8th CD GOP primary this year.

Straw argues that Democrat Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth – who lost her legs in military service - was provided unfair advantage in gathering petition signatures for her last two Congressional bids.

"I looked through the nomination papers of Tammy Duckworth in 2012 and 2014," Straw said. "Duckworth did not collect a single signature herself, but she got on the ballot and won her primary and the general election both years."

Straw says he collected about half of the signatures he obtained and experienced pain while doing so.  

"I asked for an accommodation based on the pain in my legs I feel collecting signatures due to broken bones. Every accommodation I asked was denied. I should have been allowed on the ballot with 128 signatures even though the required number is 475. Collecting signatures hurt my broken legs," he said. "This isn't rocket science."

The problem is that early voting commenced February 4th and Straw's name is not on the GOP ballot in the 8th CD. With no alternative, he is now running as a write-in candidate.

"Please just let me back on the ballot," Straw said. "Was the pain I endured to get those signatures not enough for the Illinois State Board of Elections? My pain was more than Tammy Duckworth experienced getting on the ballot, since she did not collect one signature herself."

Straw says the ISBE's petition signature rejection was "irrational and spiteful."

"I am disabled and the Board saw how severely. My accommodation was reasonable and actually reduced the number of signatures the Board had to evaluate without increasing the number of candidates for this office," he said.

As a result, Straw has filed suit in Chicago, seeking ballot access and future accommodations for disabilities like his.


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  1. With a little bit of internet search time, one would find the Department of Justice’s ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual (which indicates that wheelchair bound candidates don’t get ADA breaks on the candidate petition process) or the Dekom federal court case out of New York (where the court ruled that various handicapped plaintiffs don’t get ADA breaks on the candidate petition process).
    Tammy Duckworth probably knows what every successful candidate for higher office knows, candidates need to focus all their time on doing the campaign related things that must be done personally (like a lot of the campaign appearance, fund raising and debate preparation activities) and a candidate should not do things that other people like volunteers or hired people can do (such as circulating petitions). The petition process is supposed to show a reasonable level of community support, and she had the support needed (having enough circulators and voters willing to sign for her).
    Candidates for very local offices like library or park boards might be able to do their own circulating without harming their chances, but not statewide or federal offices.

  2. I know two candidates here in Lake County, both permanently in wheelchairs, who were able to get the required number of signatures to get on their respective ballots.
    I wholeheartedly support accomadations for the disabled – my mom was an amputee. There are times when accomodations need to be made. This is not one of those times.

  3. “Doc” should be clear who he is. Only the lawyer from the Illinois AG’s office would mention Dekom, as he did in the court case.
    This matter is before the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
    Straw v. SOEB, 2016CP2378
    I asked for three separate accommodations and all of them were rejected.
    The obligation to collect signatures does not fall on any volunteer or group of volunteers.
    Tammy Duckworth used a signature collection service, and that’s why you see page after page of the same people collecting the signatures.
    I collected 128 more signatures then representative Duckworth did every time she ran.
    Andrew Straw

  4. This is the service provided by the state and it needs to allow accommodations. Probably the easiest accommodation would be allowing people who collect signatures to call people on the phone and get permission to type their names. This would have more fraud prevention capability because there would be an audit trail. The telephone company would show every telephone number that was called and how long the call was. This is better than physically collecting signatures. It should be allowed regardless of disability.

  5. The Illinois Election Code also DOES NOT require a candidate to have any volunteers at all. It’s simply not in the Code. So stop acting like disabled candidates are required to have volunteers when the Illinois Election Code does not require it. The requirement is for ***the candidate*** to get signatures.
    If I ask for reasonable accommodations that cost the ISBE NOTHING, they should be granted. My multiple no-cost accommodations were rejected and I was kept from the ballot both in 2016 and 2018.