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Shelby Township Petition Objection Hearing Process – Part II

Shelby Co. (ECWd)

In Part 1 of this series, we shared the first trigger that begins the creation of an Electoral Board. With objections now on record, the Board must convene to hear them.

As outlined in this article, the initial Electoral Board has been disqualified so now vacancies are filled by the following method:

10 ILCS 5/10-9 “Any vacancies on an electoral board not otherwise filled pursuant to this Section shall be filled by public members appointed by the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for the county wherein the electoral board hearing is being held upon notification to the Chief Judge of such vacancies. The Chief Judge shall be so notified by a member of the electoral board or the officer or board with whom the objector’s petition was filed. In the event that none of the individuals designated by this Section to serve on the electoral board are eligible, the chairman of an electoral board shall be designated by the Chief Judge.”

The disqualified board notified the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court on January 3, 2017, according to this letter.

Now that the Judge has been notified, he must select three public members and appoint them to the Shelby Township Electoral Board.  Considering the past board has been disqualified, the Judge must also designate who the Chairman of the new Electoral Board will be.

Of particular interest to this board is their obligation to do certain things in this process.  One in particular that the last board failed to do was hold the objection hearing no sooner than 3 days, nor later than 5 days from receipt of the objections.  As it relates to the objection of Cory Wells, the electoral board did not meet that timeline.  When that was discussed at the last meeting the attorney attempted to imply they called their first meeting within the time frame however that is not true as the first meeting was not noticed in compliance with the Open Meetings act so it never happened.  The second meeting they called was well outside the statutory timeline so it appears, if the faulty objections are allowed to be heard, an affirmative defense is going to be the mandated timeline for that objection was blown and it must be dismissed.

10 ILCS 5/10-9  -“The day of the meeting shall not be less than 3 nor more than 5 days after the receipt of the certificate of nomination or nomination papers and the objector’s petition by the chairman of the electoral board.”

Another key obligation that was ignored was the board’s obligation to establish rules.

10 ILCS 5/10-9  “The electoral board on the first day of its meeting shall adopt rules of procedure for the introduction of evidence and the presentation of arguments and may, in its discretion, provide for the filing of briefs by the parties to the objection or by other interested persons.”

By all indications, the attorney sitting at the table had no clue of this requirement as no adoption of rules was on the agenda at their first meeting, not to mention she made no attempt to disqualify the members of the board that was conflicted.  It appears the attorney at the table was not familiar with the law’s the electoral board is bound to because if she was, the failings of the disqualified board would not have happened.   Of more interest to us is how this attorney was inserted to represent the initial Electoral Board, a separate public body created by the Election Code.  We will dedicate another article to that matter as the information we have obtained is troubling.

Once the new board is seated and they have their first meeting, that shall include rules of procedure, the process can begin to address the objections filed.

What is of major importance with these hearings is the limitations placed on the board by statute.  They have limited powers and as it relates to throwing people off the ballot, they can only take the following action at such a hearing.

“The electoral board shall take up the question as to whether or not the certificate of nomination or nomination papers or petitions are in proper form, and whether or not they were filed within the time and under the conditions required by law, and whether or not they are the genuine certificate of nomination or nomination papers or petitions which they purport to be, and whether or not in the case of the certificate of nomination in question it represents accurately the decision of the caucus or convention issuing it, and in general shall decide whether or not the certificate of nomination or nominating papers or petitions on file are valid or whether the objections thereto should be sustained and the decision of a majority of the electoral board shall be final subject to judicial review as provided in Section 10-10.1.”

As it relates to the nomination papers for the township positions being objected to, we looked at that information and applied the powers listed above to that information and are of the opinion these objections will never fly if before the eyes of the court.  However, with local board members and little to no knowledge of election law and case law on these matters, you might as well flip a coin as to what they will do in this case.

Our finding:

  • The certificate of nomination or nomination papers are in proper form.
  • The certificate of nomination or nomination papers were filed within the time required by law.
  • The certificate of nomination or nomination papers were filed under the conditions required by law. (will be explained in detail in Part III)
  • The certificate of nomination or nomination papers are the genuine certificate of nomination or nomination papers or petitions which they purport to be.
  • The certificate of nomination or nomination papers represents accurately the decision of the caucus or convention issuing it

With all of the above being true, the board should decide that the petitions on file are valid and dismiss the objections and let the voters decide who they want to vote for.

 

 

 

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