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Shelbyville Township Electoral Board Disqualified Themselves From Petition Objection Hearing

Shelbyville, IL. (ECWd) –

The Shelbyville Township Electoral Board met this morning to hear objections filed by Robin Robertson, current Shelbyville Township Road Commissioner.  Prior to the actual hearing of those objections, Brad Halbrook presented a Motion to Disqualify the members.  His motion was well grounded in law and pointed out that two of the members can’t hear objections because they have an interest in the outcome since they are also running for seats on the Township Board.

The law is clear and points out that in this situation those members are disqualified to hear the objection and they must turn to the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court so that he/she can appoint members of the community to establish a new electoral board.

It should be noted that the attorney for the electoral board appeared to agree with the law, however, was silent on the matter until it was raised.  We can only wonder why the attorney had not advised them of the conflict before the hearing was ever called in the first place.

The Chairman of the board did the correct thing and acknowledged the disqualifications and will be sending a letter to the Chief Judge so that they can establish the new board.  We commend them for doing the right thing once again.

Additionally, it was noted that the board failed to create rules for the electoral board hearings.  Halbrook raised his concerns on that matter along with concerns of such a hearing being heard within the statutory timeline.

The attorney argued, poorly in our mind, that the requirement to hold the objection hearing in 3-5 days applied to calling the meeting, not holding it.  However, her claim does not appear to be consistent with what the statutes states or opinions of the higher courts.

State statute: “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”. 

Case law:County Officers Electoral Board’s decision to deny his nominating petition was a nullity because the board did not convene within the appropriate time period. Maske, 234 Ill.App.3d at 513-16, 175 Ill.Dec. 582, 600 N.E.2d 513. The court held that section 10-10 of the Election Code, which states that the time period when the electoral board will meet to hear objections to nominating petitions “`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'” (emphasis omitted) (Maske, 234 Ill.App.3d at 513, 175 Ill.Dec. 582, 600 N.E.2d 513, quoting Ill.Rev.Stat. 1991, ch. 46, par. 10-10), was directory because, unlike other sections of the Election Code, that section failed to indicate what would occur if the procedure was not 1289*1289 followed. Maske, 234 Ill.App.3d at 515-16, 175 Ill.Dec. 582, 600 N.E.2d 513.

In our view, when the legislature, in charging a public agency to act, uses “shall” in conjunction with additional plain language, such as “not less than,” that clearly indicates that there is a strict time limitation, we decline to read such a provision as directory simply because the legislature has not provided a penalty for noncompliance.

During the hearing, Kirk Allen raised concern with the attorney questioning Halbrook on matters and asked the Chairman to run his meeting.  He agreed and the questioning stopped.

Additional discussion between the board members and the attorney, led to the board unanimously granting Halbrook’s Motion To Disqualify.

The records have been sent to the Chief Judge of the Circuit and to the Chief Judge of Shelby County. Objector and respondents are waiting for appointment of new electoral board members.

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4 replies »

  1. Given the Halbrook Motion to Disqualify, would it have been legal for the Electoral Board to turn the matter over to the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court prior to the January 3rd meeting, thereby saving everyone time from having to attend the meeting?

  2. Have same problem in Wesley Township, Will county, Clerk is election judge and biased told me in front of others she would not help me with my petition and it would be contested. Also is not a notary. Let it expire. While I was commish for 12 years clerk always had that at least. Had a kangaroo court as more that 2 are facing reelection to board. Cost to taxpayers to get me and one other off of ballot is going to be over 1500. Senior trustee is telling voters if I run they are going to get me thrown off of ballot. Super conflict can see why they want to get rid of townships.

  3. Unfortunately, conflict of interest problems are extremely common in local governments everywhere on all kinds of matters. At least this time the problem will be corrected. Good for all those involved in correcting this item.