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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Candidates Substantially Complied with Notary Requirement

Candidates for public office are more and more frequently finding that they must defend against challenges to their candidacy.  The Illinois Election Code requires candidates to follow very specific rules in filing their nomination papers for candidacy as well as making sure the candidates are eligible for public office.  Some of these rules and eligibility requirements must be strictly followed.  Other rules and eligibility requirements may be subject to a "substantial compliance" standard.  In a recent First District Appellate Court decision, the court analyzed two such requirements. Cortez, et al. v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City, 2013 IL App (1st) 130442.
Objections were filed against nine candidates for office in Calumet City.  The Municipal Officers Electoral Board conducted the statutorily required hearing on the objections and ruled that all nine candidates should be removed from the ballot.  The circuit court reversed the Electoral Board, and the Board appealed. 
The Electoral Board had removed the nine candidate from the ballot based on a failure to strictly comply with the notary requirement of Section 7-10 of the Election Code.  The Board had determined that the specific notary language on the candidates' statements of candidacy failed to include the phrase "who is to me personally known" as set out in Section 7-10. The appellate court acknowledged that the candidates used the "short form" notarization language rather than the long form set out in Section 7-10.  However, Section 7-10 specifically states that the statement of candidacy has to be only "in substantially the following form."  In the appellate court's opinion, the candidates substantially complied with this requirement and removal from the ballot would be to drastic of a remedy for failure to strictly comply with the statutory language.  The court did issue a cautionary statement to candidates for office that they should follow the recommended directions of the elections statute.
With respect to one of the nine candidates, the Electoral Board had also based its decision to remove that candidate from the ballot for failure to file the correct statement of economic interest.  The candidate had filed a form for candidates for statewide office rather than the form for local candidates. The court determined that because the statewide form did not include certain questions relating to business with the local government, the candidate did not comply with this particular statutory requirement for candidacy for local office.  The court determined that filling out the wrong form did not constitute substantial compliance, and the Board's decision to remove the candidate from the ballot was correct.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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