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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

No Bias Shown to Disqualify Electoral Board Member

Jan McDonald filed petitions to run for Cook County Clerk in the March 20th primary election. Objections were filed, and the Cook County Electoral Board convened to hear the objections. McDonald filed a motion with the Electoral Board to disqualify Cook County Clerk David Orr from serving on the Board (under state law, the Cook County Clerk, States Attorney, and Circuit Court Clerk make up the Electoral Board). She argued that Orr should be replaced with a public body member appointed by the Chief Judge.

Two days after she filed her motion to disqualify Orr with the Electoral Board, she filed a lawsuit seeking the same relief. The trial court ruled against her, finding that Orr's continued participation on the Electoral Board did not violate Section 10-9 Election Code because he was not a current candidate for the County Clerk position. Section 10-9 of the Election Code provide that a member of the board who is a candidate for an office for which an objection has been filed is disqualified from serving on the Electoral Board that hears that particular objection - but, since Orr was not a candidate for that office, this section did not apply.

The court also rejected McDonald's arguments that Orr or Orr's replacement, which by statute would be the County Treasurer had a personal or political interest and conflict under Cook County General Order No. 21. The court determined that the mere fact that Board members may be political allies or opponents does not constitute the type of bias to support disqualification. As a result, the court rejected McDonald's argument for disqualification of Orr and other Electoral Board members.  McDonald v. Cook County Electoral Board, 2018 IL App (1st) 180122-U.

In a related decision issued a day after this decision, the appellate court also remanded McDonald's appeal of the Electoral Board's decision to remove her from the ballot for alleged widespread alteration of petition sheets in her nomination papers. McDonald v. Cook County Electoral Board, 2018 IL App (1st) 180406.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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