Recently, an Illinois court upheld an electoral board's dismissal of a "shot-gun" style objection to a candidate's nomination papers based, in part, on the objector's failure to appear at the hearing to answer questions about how the objections were formulated. Erik Daniel v. John Daly, et al.,
On December 11, 2014, John Daly filed nomination papers with 262 signatures to run for the office of trustee of South Suburban College of Cook County District 510. During the objection filing period, Erik Daniel filed a verified objector’s petition objecting to Daly’s nominating petitions. The objection challenged the validity of 240 signatures. Only 22 signatures were not objected to and the statutory minimum was 50 signatures.
After the objections were filed, the electoral board convened a hearing. At its first meeting, the electoral board adopted rules of procedure, as required by the Election Code. These rules provided that, among other things, the electoral board could require the objector to make a preliminary showing of the factual basis for grounds stated in the objector’s petition to determine if the allegations were made in good faith based on knowledge, information, and/or belief formed after reasonable inquiry. The rules also provided that a failure to adhere to the rules could be grounds for striking and/or dismissing some or all of the objector’s petition.
The candidate subpoenaed the records of the Cook County Clerk’s office to see who accessed the voter registration records. After learning that the objector had not viewed the records, the candidate filed a motion to dismiss the objection. At the hearing on the candidate's motion to dismiss, the objector failed to appear. His attorney was present, and argued that the objector's appearance was not necessary. The electoral board disagreed, granting Daly’s motion to strike and dismiss on the basis that they were improper and not made in good faith.
On appeal to the appellate court, Daniels argued that he was not required to testify at the hearing and that the Board’s decision was arbitrary and contrary to the law because the Election Code does not require him to personally conduct a records examination prior to filing his objections. Daly argued that the objection itself was arbitrary and it was a shot-gun petition that must be dismissed. The appellate court held that the electoral board had the authority to require the objector to appear and answer questions about whether his objection was based upon actual knowledge. As a result, the court upheld the dismissal of the objection.