Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Court Rejects Challenge to Library Referendum

Voters in a library district approved a referendum to increase property taxes.  Following the referendum, petitioners filed an election contest petition in the circuit court alleging that the library district and its trustees violated campaign financing and disclosure laws by supporting and encouraging passage of the referendum and expending public funds to promote and advocate for the referendum. The petitioners asked the court to declare the election null and void and to enjoin the library district from any further expenditures for political or private purposes.  The circuit court dismissed the case finding that the petitioners had failed to state a cause of action, and the petitioners appealed.  The appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the case in Sherman et al. v. Indian Trails Public Library District (August 3, 2012).

In reviewing the applicable statutory language, the appellate court first determined that prosecution of campaign financing violations are to be brought by the states attorney or attorney general, and that the proper remedy for the improper use of public funds in an election is a fine or remedial action, not nullifcation of the election.  The appellate court further determined that the purpose of the election contest statute was to address challenges to the "conduct of the election."  The petitioners did not allege any mistakes, violations, or fraud in the conduct of the election itself, however.  Consequently, the court determined that the petitioners failed to state a claim for an election contest claim.  

The appellate court also found that the petitioners failed to state a claim for infringement of their constitutional voter rights.  In fact, the court found no case where a court set aside an election based on the unlawful advocacy of a governmental entity, and that imposing such a remedy would actually disenfrachise the voters who voted in support of the referendum. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


Post a Comment