Hearings on ballot petition challenges for mayoral candidates to begin Tuesday

Chicago election officials on Tuesday will begin wading through challenges aimed at kicking a dozen candidates off the ballot for mayor, including front runner Susana Mendoza.

The candidate who's trying to keep Mendoza off the ballot is also targeting other women.

In addition to being Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle also chairs the local Democratic party -- a post once held for two decades by Richard J. Daley. Borrowing from the boss's playbook, Preckwinkle's trying to keep three female rivals off the February 26th ballot for mayor. Those rivals are Lori Lightfoot, who’s the former president of the Chicago Police Board; Dorothy Brown, longtime Circuit Court Clerk; and Susana Mendoza, newly re-elected as Illinois Comptroller.

Election officials Monday approved a schedule for reviewing those and other challenges aimed keeping a dozen mayoral candidates from being on the ballot. A total of 181 challenges have been filed, the vast majority targeting candidates for alderman in wards across Chicago. Candidates for mayor need 12,500 valid signatures from registered voters.

What begins Tuesday is the excruciatingly slow process of examining every challenged signature, one-by-one, to see if what's on the voter's registration card matches what's on a candidate's nominating petition. Also at issue, if a voter signed more than one candidate's nominating petition, only the first signature is considered valid.

The first challenge to be reviewed was filed by mayoral candidate Paul Vallas against Bill Daley. It's up at 9:30 a.m.

Reviewing Preckwinkle's challenge to Mendoza begins at 1 p.m.

Early voting is scheduled to begin next month, January 17th. But election officials warn it's possible the ballot won't be finalized until early February.