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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Clerk Properly Refused to Certify Referendum

Petitioners filed petitions for a referendum to prohibit the sale of liquor in a Chicago precinct.  The City Clerk refused to certify the petition, however.  The petitioners filed a lawsuit asking the court to order the Clerk to certify the petitions, arguing that the petitions were in apparent conformity with state law.  The trial court and appellate courts denied the petitioners any relief, finding that the petitions were not in apparent conformity due to a number of deficiencies.  Mabwa v. Mendoza, 2014 IL App (1st) 142771 (Oct. 7, 2014).

The Illinois Liquor Control Act grants citizens the right to restrict or prohibit the sale of liquor in their own precinct, but only after a referendum vote on the question.  To initiate that question, a petition must be filed in proper form with the city clerk.  Under Illinois election law, a city clerk can refuse to certify a referendum (placing the question on the ballot) if a petition do not 'on its face" comply with state law.  The Liquor Act requires the petition to be in a particular form under that statue and to comply with the Election Code requirements.  These requirements include a circulator's statement that the signatures were not signed more than 4 months before the filing of the petition, among many other requirements.  In this case, the clerk determined that some of the signatures were undated, certain petitions did not include the required circulator statement, and at least one voter appeared to sign the petition outside of the four month filing period.  As a result, the clerk had no obligation to certify the deficient referendum question.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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