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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Electoral Board Has No Authority to Raise its Own Objections to Candidacy

The Illinois Election Code authorizes an objector to file a formal objection to a candidate's nomination for failure to challenge the candidate's eligibility to run for office. There are numerous cases involving these type of challenges that provide guidance to both candidates and objectors as to the type of challenges that may or may not be successful (i.e., result in removal of a candidate from the ballot). The scope of the objection and the electoral board's jurisdiction are the subjects of today's case, Wiesner v. Brennan, 2016 IL App (2d) 160115.

Wiesner filed nomination papers to run for circuit court judge in DuPage County at the primary election in March of this year.  Brennan filed an objection to Wiesner's candidacy on a variety of grounds, including challenges to individual signatures and an improper identification of the office. The DuPage election commission held a hearing on the objection, and found Wiesner ineligible to be on the ballot because the candidate's statement of candidacy and petition sheets were not properly notarized.  Wiesner appealed, and both the trial court and appellate court reversed the commission, and ordered the candidate's name to be placed on the ballot.

The appellate court rejected the commission's finding that the papers were not properly notarized because that issue was not raised in the original objection that was filed by Brennan and instead was raised for the first time during the election commission's hearing.  The court cited a number of cases that clearly hold that an electoral board should only consider the specific challenges set forth in the written objection, and that the Election Code does not provide for amendments to objections nor does it permit an electoral board to raise its own objections to a nomination petition. Since the notary issue was not addressed in the initial written objection, the election commission exceeded its authority when it invalidated the candidacy of Wiesner based on grounds not raised in the objection. As a result, the candidate's name was ordered to be placed on the ballot.

Post authored by Julie Tappendorf


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