Clark Co., IL. (ECWd) -
Few things present themselves as opportunities (like this one) that will most likely never happen again, and I believe this is another one of those opportunities.
Over the past several months, the situation at the Clark County Park District has deteriorated into what appears to be a clear disregard of the laws the park commissioners are sworn to uphold. From "free" boat passes and "free" dock rent for commissioners, self dealing in pawning off a junk van to the district, logging trees and pocketing money, underhanded dealings with construction contracts, incurring debt without board approval in violation of the Park District Code, submitting a questionable budget, and culminating in attempts to lease lots out for private residences.
The residents of the district are not happy campers.
We had a long "off-the-record" conversation with several officials from a different public body a few days ago, and a couple things stuck out during that conversation; - "That's the way we always do it in Clark County", and, "we object to petitions by letters to the editor and then the head of the public body makes the determination". Both statements, even though they may be somewhat true in this instance regarding past practices, they are completely wrong on more than one level.
Back to the story at hand, the park district has five commissioner seats up for election in April of 2015. There were ten candidate petition packets turned in to the district office. The last day for turning in the petitions was December 22, 2014.
The petitions turned in were: Lisa Thomas, Randy Blankenship, Stephanie Romero, Jeff Wallace, Kara O'Rourke, Terry Stepp, Larry Yargus, Jennifer Davidson, Joe Ewing, and Jerry Rankin.
When the last day to turn in packets is finished there are five "business days" to object to any candidate petitions that do not meet the standard of the Illinois Election Code, or the objector otherwise feels the petitions are not valid or the candidate is not qualified for office.
The definition of "business day" when dealing with elections is any day in which the office of an election authority, local election official, or the State Board of Elections is open to the public for a minimum of seven hours, excluding Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. (10 ILCS 5/1-3) - State Holidays are listed in [10 ILCS 5/1-6(b)]
The definition of "local election official" is the clerk or secretary of a unit of local government or a school district. (10 ILCS 5/1-3)
Objections to Petitions are turned in to the same place that the Petitions are turned in to. That means, in this case, the Clark County Park District Office, the "local election official". Ordinarily, the five day petition objection window would have ended at the close of business on December 30, 2014, but since the park district office was closed (click here for proof) on Dec 24 and Dec 26, the five business day window ends on January 2, unless the park district is closed on January 2, 2015, in which case the last day to file petition objections would be January 5, 2015.
On December 30, 2014, petition objections were filed with the local election official. Another set of petition objections were filed on December 31, 2014 - objecting to the petitions of five candidates.
Objections filed against the petitions of: Terry Stepp, Larry Yargus, Jennifer Davidson, Joe Ewing, and Jerry Rankin.
The reason stated in the Objections were that the petitions of the candidate were not numbered and or not numbered consecutively as required by the Illinois Election Code.
The election code does mandate page numbering on petitions and there is case precedence for this in Nader v. Illinois State Board of Elections (2004), where the Court ruled that the provisions in the Election Code requiring petition sheets, prior to being filed with the proper officer of the district, to be numbered consecutively (among other requirements) is mandatory and must be met, and failing to comply with even one of the mandates will result in the petitions' invalidation.
The Court gave several reasons for the page numbering, such as, giving reviewers the ability to reference page numbers on complaints, keeps petitions from being altered, sheets removed, sheets added, or sheets tampered with. The rule also not only preserves the integrity of the petitions submitted, but preserves the integrity of the entire election process in general.
What happens now?
The Clark County Electoral Board must hold a meeting no earlier than three days and no more than five days after the objections have been delivered to their office. The Electoral Board is a public body comprised of the County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, and State's Attorney, and all hearings are open public meetings, subject to the notice, agenda, audio and video recording, and public comment requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
Read the Objections below (I redacted the Objector's address):