Attorney has seen history made with his decades in election law


With the midterm elections upon us, the political bluster is on blast from national politics right down to the state, county and local voting results. Guaranteed to be in the middle of one or another is attorney Burt Odelson.

Now in his 50th year of practicing election law, Odelson has been at the legal ground zero for many of the country’s hotly contested political square-offs. 

Odelson is a nationally recognized legal expert who has rubbed elbows with GOP presidents and powerful Democratic mayors.

His allegiance and preservation are to the constitution; an abiding pledge formed growing up in a family where law and order and pride in the United States came first and last.

His father was one of eight Odelson boys who served in World War II from 1942 to 1945.

During his late teens and early 20s, Odelson would align himself with the hippie generation of the times. During the 1968 Democratic Convention, he would work as a driver to famed political writer Gore Vidal and a political activist by the name of Paul Newman.

“He was a delegate from Connecticut,” Odelson said. “He and Gore Vidal were best of friends. I got to be their chauffeur through the entire Democratic Convention. I saw the results of heavy-handedness of the kids who got hurt and I thought back then, ‘I want to get in the middle of this. This is what I want to do.’”

Odelson said that was his seminal moment.

In the 80s, Odelson would be in the thick of the Chicago Council wars and the subsequent election fights over ballots.

Odelson argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court for Eugene Pincham to stay on the ballot when the Chicago Democrats wanted him off.

But by far, his most famous case was the outcome of the 2000 presidential race between George Bush and Al Gore. 

READ MORE: Your Local Election HQ

With the midterms only days away, Odelson wants people to know that they may not like the result of a certain race but the integrity of its outcome should not be in doubt in all likelihood.

WGN’s Patrick Elwood spent some time with Odelson recently and has more.

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