Articles Posted in Election Law

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Johnson filed a referendum petition seeking to place on the November 2016, general election ballot the question of imposing term limits on the elected office of Broadview village president. The Broadview electoral board invalidated the referendum as vague and ambiguous “because it is not clear whether the Referendum applies retroactively as well as prospectively.” The circuit court concluded the referendum was self-executing, not vague or ambiguous, and ordered the referendum to appear on the ballot. The appellate court affirmed. The proposition appeared on the ballot, but the results were not released, in compliance with an appellate court injunction. The Illinois Supreme Court ordered that the injunctive order be vacated and took judicial notice that the referendum was approved, then affirmed. While the proposition did not provide an express date marking the relevant timeframe for the prior terms of office, it is directed at that those “who seek election to or hold the office of Village President” beginning with the April 2017 election who have “been previously elected” to that office for two consecutive full terms. When read in its entirety, the language adequately explains that the initial starting point for determining whether candidates were “previously elected” village president is the April 2017 election. View "Johnson v. Ames" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Constitution of 1970 may be amended by constitutional convention; the General Assembly; or ballot initiatives, Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIV, sects. 1, 2, 3. Ballot initiatives may only be used for amendments directed at “structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV,” pertaining to Illinois’s legislative branch. The ballot initiative at issue addresses redistricting to redraw the legislative and representative districts following each federal decennial census. In May 2016, SIM filed with the Secretary of State a petition proposing the amendment of article IV, section 3, to replace the current system for redrawing Illinois’s legislative and representative districts. The General Assembly’s role would be eliminated from the process, with primary responsibility for drawing legislative and representative districts falling to a new “Independent Redistricting Commission” selected through a process involving limited legislative input. The State Board of Elections determined that the petition received more than the required number of valid signatures. Days after submission of the petition, a “taxpayer’s suit” was filed (735 ILCS 5/11-303), seeking to enjoin the disbursal of public funds to determine the petition’s compliance with the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/1-1. The circuit court found that the petition did not comply with requirements for inclusion on the ballot. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, citing “the plain language of article XIV, section 3.” View "Hooker v. Illinois State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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Parks, incumbent mayor of East St. Louis, is seeking reelection in the April 2015 election. East St. Louis officials run for office on a nonpartisan basis. Parks’ nominating petitions were subject to Election Code rules governing petitions for independent candidates, 10 ILCS 5/10-3.1, which require signatures by a minimum number of qualified voters of the political subdivision. Under the formula for determining that number, petitions for East St. Louis mayoral candidates were required to have a minimum of 136 valid signatures. Parks filed petitions with 171 signatures. Jackson-Hicks, also a candidate for mayor, filed an objection under 10 ILCS 5/10-8. At a hearing, the attorney for the Election Board presented evidence that at least 48 signatures on Parks’ petitions were invalid; 12 additional signatures were questioned on the grounds that those persons were not registered to vote at the time they signed. The Election Board denied the objection, stating that the objection was in the proper form; that all required notices had been issued and served; and that Parks’ nominating papers had “insufficient signatures.” Despite this deficiency, the Board found “substantial compliance” and ordered that Parks’ name appear on the ballot. The circuit court and appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding the minimum signature requirement mandatory. View "Jackson-Hicks v. East St. Louis Bd. of Election Comm'rs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Earls filed nomination papers for alderman of Chicago’s 28th Ward on November 22, 2010, for an election to take place on February 22, 2011. An objector complained to the board of election commissioners that Earls and her husband, joint owners, were claiming homeowner property tax exemptions for properties other than the one in which they resided. The Municipal Code states that: “A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office if that person is in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the municipality.” Earls had obtained documentation that, as of November 17, 2010, she had no outstanding debt for parking, water, administrative hearings, inspection fees, cost recovery, and tax/licensing. The Earls waived the extra exemptions and made payment to the county treasurer. The board concluded that property taxes owed because of unauthorized exemptions did not mandate ineligibility for municipal office. The trial court affirmed. The appellate court reversed on the last business day before the election, and directed that Earls’ name be removed from the ballot or that voters be given written notice that Earls had been disqualified. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, but declined to order a new election. Earls’ property taxes were owed to the county collector, not the city. View "Jackson v. Bd. of Election Comm'rs, City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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At the February 2010 primary, there was no name printed on the Republican ballot for the office of member of the St. Clair County board of review, and no candidate was nominated as a write-in. In March, the Republican Party central committee appointed plaintiff as its candidate, and, in April, made a filing with the county clerk, entitled “resolution/certificate of appointment.” Plaintiff circulated and filed nominating petitions and other required documents, pursuant to Election Code section 7–61. The electoral board sustained an objection so that plaintiff’s name did not appear on the November ballot. Trial and appellate courts affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, first holding that it could address the moot issue under the exception for matters of public interest. The lower courts applied the wrong section of the statute, which contains different sections for different situations. View "Wisnasky-Bettorf v. Pierce" on Justia Law