Teachers Will Re-Vote For President
Kate N. Grossman, Ana Mendieta And Rosalind Rossi, Chicago Sun-Times, Jun. 30
[Note from AR: Marilyn Stewart is black and Deborah Lynch is white.]
The closest Chicago Teachers Union election in 30 years was declared null and void Tuesday after a union committee found “evidence of fraud” including 600 missing ballots, according to union officials.
Most union officials contacted late Tuesday could not recall such an action being taken in union history.
The decision to toss out the June 11 election results that tossed president Deborah Lynch from power and replaced her with special education teacher Marilyn Stewart came after an eight-hour meeting of the CTU Canvassing Committee.
“The Canvassing Committee has determined the election is invalid and Stewart and her group have not been properly elected,” said Kathrin Koenig, a CTU lawyer. “The question is when and how to hold a new election so a fair vote can be determined.”
The CTU’s executive committee will hold a special meeting today to decide on the process for a new election.
Word of the call for a new runoff election came as Lynch supporters were cleaning out their desks after getting their formal pink slips from Stewart’s regime.
Stewart beat Lynch 11,566 to 11,006 votes.
Jackie Gallagher, a former CTU official, who dates back to the days of CTU President Jacqueline Vaughn, said she was surprised the decision from the canvassing committee came so long after the June 11 election. Vaughn ran the union from 1984-1994.
“Why has it taken so long?” Gallagher said. “I am absolutely stunned.”
She also noted that the decision comes as 13 union officials were fired by Stewart’s regime.
“What a crazy, crazy situation,” she said. “If Debbie pulls it off, it will be a miracle.”
Jay Rehak, Lynch’s press secretary, said the news came as a surprise, although the Lynch camp had asked for a review after the American Arbitration Association issued a report on unused and spoiled ballots.
It is the first time in 30 years that the CTU has brought in an outside agency to monitor the election.
Koenig, an attorney for the CTU, said that 600 ballots were unaccounted for.
Rehak said there had also been suspicions about irregularities during balloting, he said.
“There was a whiff of problems from the start,” Rehak said late Tuesday.
The probe centered around unused and spoiled ballots and a larger number of voters in the runoff than in the first election, Rehak said. He said that a number of teachers who were absent also voted — not illegal but an indicator that can seen a red flag for vote watchers.
Koenig said that a CTU review showed that 112 teachers from 95 schools appeared on the list as being absent, but nevertheless their names appeared on the voting signature list.
One teacher said she saw her name on the official voting list, although she never signed it herself, Koenig said.
Lynch could not be reached for comment.
Reached at her home in Matteson late Tuesday, Stewart declined to comment and referred calls to her spokeswoman, Rose Maria Genova.
“We are in contact with our legal department and we are waiting their analysis of the situation,” Genova said. “We will continue to take the necessary steps for our transition, that will take place July 1.”