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Candidates begin filing signatures for ballots -- what it takes in Chicago versus other cities

2023 candidates begin dropping off their petition signatures in Chicago
2023 candidates begin dropping off their petition signatures in Chicago 02:58

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Six people so far are officially on their way to running for mayor of Chicago in 2023.

Anyone interested in leading the city has six days left to gather thousands of signatures of support. CBS 2 wondered what it takes to get on the mayoral ballot in other major cities.

As CBS 2's Lauren Victory reported, doors closed just after 5 p.m. at the Chicago Board of Elections' main polling place at Clark and Lake streets – which on Monday was serving as petition-filing headquarters for the first day.

Candidates must submit signatures from registered voters in order to appear on the ballot. That is a mandate you won't find in every big city.

Political teams began parading into the polling place before sunrise – around 6:30 a.m. – with signatures to run for all sorts of leadership for political positions in hand.

"It's a big celebration," said Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Max Bever. "Candidates have been collecting their signatures over the last few months."

In Philadelphia, mayoral hopefuls do not get a few months. They get three weeks to collect John Hancocks.

"You have to have 1,000 signatures," said Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir.

Sabir said his city's petition minimum is much lower than Chicago's – which is 12,500 signatures.

But Chicago does not have filing fees. In Philadelphia, candidates must pay $100 – and then duke it out for one spot on the general election ballot. That position is Democratic candidate.

"In Philadelphia, if you pretty much win the primary, you pretty much win the election - because there's such a high Democratic advantage," Sabir said.

New York City also runs a partisan election for mayor, but also uses a unique ranked-choice system during the primary to determine who makes it on the general election ballot as the Democratic and Republican candidate. The ranked-choice system, which debuted during the 2021 New York City mayoral contest, allows voters to rank up to five candidates.

"If no candidate receives 50 percent of the first-place votes, then counting continues in rounds," said Eric Friedman, assistant executive director for public affairs at the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

No fees are needed to run for mayor in New York City, but candidates are mandated to submit 2,250 signatures – much less than Chicago in a city with more than three times as many people.

"The threshold requirement itself is pretty low and allows a good, broad range of candidates," Friedman said.

Meantime in Atlanta, no signatures are necessary at all to get on the ballot – if you can cough up $5,529. If you don't have such cash, you can fill out a form and declare you're a "pauper."

Candidates going the pauper route would need about 6,700 signatures – or 1 percent of registered voters in Atlanta.

More than a dozen Georgia residents vied for Atlanta mayor in 2021 – which led to a runoff a few weeks later.

Sound familiar?

Again, we're looking at six names on our February ballot for Chicago mayor as of Monday. That number is expected to grow in the coming days with more candidates filing their petitions.

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