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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Illinois Appellate Court Clears Ambiguity after Review of a Board of Election Decision

In a recent case, an Illinois appellate court found that a candidate who signed nominating petitions for Democratic candidates (including herself) and a Republican candidate could still appear on the ballot.  Schmidt v. The Illinois State Board of Elections et al.  

Julie Schmidt filed an objection with the Illinois State Board of Elections claiming that Anna Moeller, a Democratic candidate for the office of Illinois Representative for the 43rd Representative District, should be barred from running in the March 15, 2016 primary election ballot. Schmidt argued that Moeller’s nominating papers were invalid because, during the same election cycle, Moeller signed her own statement of candidacy as a Democratic Party candidate, as well as the nominating petition of a Republican Party candidate running for the office of Kane County Recorder. 

Schmidt objector’s petition relied on section 8-8 of the Election Code (10 ILCS5/8-8 (West 2014)), which provides that “[a] ‘qualified primary elector’ of a party may not sign petitions for or be a candidate in the primary of more than one party.”  Moeller responded that she was not ineligible to run for office under Watkins v. Burke, which states that “when a person signs for more than one political party at the same election, the first signature in time is valid and all subsequent signatures for a different political party are invalid.”

The court acknowledged that Moeller signed petition sheets in support of her own nomination on September 5, 2015 and then signed the Republican candidate’s nomination papers on September 26, 2015.  Moeller then filed her own nomination papers with the Board on November 23, 2015.  Moeller conceded that her signature on the Republican petition was invalid, since she affiliated herself with the Democratic Party prior to signing the Republican candidate’s nominating petition.  However, she argued that her own nominating paper were valid since the papers were signed first in time.

The court found that although Moeller violated section 8-8 of the Election Code by signing petitions or being a candidate in the primary of more than one party, there was no specific penalty in the Election Code for a violation.  The court then applied Watkins and upheld her candidacy since her signature on her own nomination papers preceded her later signatures on the petition for a Republican candidate. 

Post Authored by Katie O'Grady, Ancel Glink


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