ALTON, IL. — A city resident who ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate for President Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat is being investigated for allegedly forging signatures on the petitions (see below) he circulated in a failed bid to get on the Illinois ballot, according to law enforcement officials.
“We are conducting some inquires to see if a crime has occurred,” Capt. Scott Compton of the Illinois State Police, an agency spokesman, told the Better Government Association this week.
Shon-tiyon “Santiago” Horton, the write-in candidate, denies forging signatures but said in an interview with the BGA that he did sign petitions on behalf of people who were physically disabled and unable to write their own names.
Horton said he was unable to remember how many names he personally signed.
During his petition drive, Horton said he questioned whether those signatures would be accepted by election authorities. Horton told the BGA that he contacted the Illinois State Board of Elections for clarification but could not get an answer.
“They couldn’t give me guidance on it,” he said.
An attorney for the ISBE, Ken Menzel, said he has no information to indicate that a call was placed on this topic.
To get on the ballot as an independent in the Nov. 2 general election, Horton, a 34-year-old employee of Alton’s public school system, needed signatures of at least 25,000 registered Illinois voters.
He fell well short of that threshold with just 632, according to documents from the state elections board.
Prior to the election, Democratic and Republican election attorneys filed challenges to make sure Horton stayed off the ballot, but he decided to run as a write-in candidate.
While examining Horton’s petition, officials at the state elections board noticed that many of the signatures were similar, as if written by the same person.
“We didn’t need CSI to come in to get to that conclusion,” Menzel said.
The matter was referred to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the Madison County state’s attorney, and prosecutors in Cook and St. Clair counties, Menzel said.
Madison County authorities referred the case to the State Police for review. Investigators will refer the case back to a prosecuting agency if and when it’s determined there were “fraudulent signatures,” said Compton.
Menzel said signing an election petition on someone else’s behalf simply is not allowed and could warrant a perjury charge.
Horton’s statewide vote tally hasn’t been officially compiled, but in Madison County, which includes Alton, he fielded 15 write-in votes for the six-year U.S. Senate term. He garnered eight votes on a separate ballot question of who should fill the last weeks of U.S. Sen. Roland Burris’ term. Republican Mark Kirk won that interim job, as well as the general election.
Despite this lack of voter support, Horton said he’s not giving up on politics and plans to run again for elected office.
This was a “virgin run – it won’t be the last,” he said.