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Lawlor v. Municipal Officer Electoral Bd.

MAY 15, 1975.

FRANCIS X. LAWLOR, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,

v.

MUNICIPAL OFFICER ELECTORAL BOARD, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HARRY G. COMERFORD, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE BARRETT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Petitioner appeals from an order of the circuit court affirming on administrative review the decision of respondent, Municipal Officer Electoral Board, declaring petitioner's statement of candidacy invalid because it was totally lacking in the essential elements required by the provisions of section 7-10 of the Election Code. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, par. 7-10.

The facts pertinent to this appeal are as follows: a vacancy in the office of Representative for the 5th Congressional District of Illinois arose by reason of the death of the Honorable John C. Kluczynski on January 26, 1975. On January 30, 1975, in accordance with section 25-7 of the Illinois Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, par. 25-7), the Governor of Illinois issued a writ of election appointing May 27, 1975, as the date of a special election to fill the vacancy. The Governor chose Tuesday, May 27, 1975, *fn1 because the last day allowed for the election pursuant to section 25-7 was Sunday, May 25, 1975, and the following day, a Federal holiday. Following the writ, in accordance with section 7-5 of the Illinois Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, par. 7-5), the Board of Election Commissioners set the primary election incident to the special election on April 15, 1975, 42 days before the special election.

Petitioner filed a document entitled "Statement of Candidacy" and petitions for nomination on February 25, 1975. Respondent, Lillian R. Snyder, filed her objections thereto with the State Board of Elections on March 1, 1975, and respondent, Municipal Officer Electoral Board, conducted a hearing on her objections on March 10, 1975. On March 11, 1975, the Board rendered its decision that the objections were timely filed on March 1, 1975, and that the office of the State Board of Elections was authorized to be open on such date in accordance with the provisions of section 1A-11 of the Election Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, par. 1A-11.) The Board further found that petitioner's statement of his candidacy failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of section 7-10 of the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, par. 7-10), in that it (a) fails to contain a statement by the candidate that he is a qualified primary voter of the Republican Party; (b) does not state that he is a candidate for nomination of the Republican Party for the office of Representative of the 5th Congressional District of the State of Illinois; (c) does not state that he is to be a candidate in the special Republican primary election to be held on the 15th day of April; (d) does not request that his name be printed on the official primary ballot for a nomination of the Republican Party in the special primary election to be held on April 15, 1975. The Board, therefore held that the statement of candidacy was totally lacking in the essential elements required by the legislature in section 7-10 of the Illinois Election Code and that the petition for nomination was therefore invalid.

On administrative review before the circuit court of Cook County, the trial court entered an order sustaining the Board's findings and decision. Petitioner appeals from the entry of that order.

In this court petitioner moved to change the date of the primary from April 15, 1975, and the election date of May 27, 1975, to new dates subsequent to the rendering of the decision on the merits of this appeal. Because of the time limitations involved, by agreement of all parties, we heard oral arguments of counsel on April 15, 1975, on the motion to reset the dates and then ordered an expedited briefing schedule. The parties waived further oral arguments and cooperated with the court by filing their briefs on or before May 2, 1975, as scheduled.

OPINION

This appeal presents two basic questions for our consideration. The first involves the request to reschedule the dates of the primary election and the special election. This has become moot by reason of the order entered by a three-judge panel of the Federal District Court on April 24, 1975. (Lawlor v. Chicago Board of Election Com., 75 C 948.) The Federal panel ruled that section 7-5 and section 7-12 of the Illinois Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, pars. 7-5, 7-12), were unconstitutional insofar as those sections operated to deprive plaintiff of his right to be a write-in candidate in the primary election and ordered defendant Board to conduct a primary election on May 27, 1975 and a general election on July 8, 1975.

The second basic question involves an interpretation of those provisions of the Election Code requiring adherence to the prescribed contents of the form of declaration of candidacy and of the nominating petitions. Section 7-10 of the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 46, par. 7-10), provides that the form be as follows:

"The name of no candidate for nomination, or State central committeeman, or township committeeman, or precinct committeeman, or ward committeeman or candidate for delegate or alternate delegate to national nominating conventions, shall be printed upon the primary ballot unless a petition for nomination has been filed in his behalf as provided in this Article in substantially the following form:

We, the undersigned, members of and affiliated with the ____ party and qualified primary electors of the ____ party, in the ____ of ____, in the county of ____ and State of Illinois, do hereby petition that the following named person or persons shall be a candidate or candidates of the ____ party for the nomination for (or in case of committeemen for election to) the office or offices hereinafter specified, to be voted for at the primary election to be held on the ____ day of ____ A.D. ____

--------------------------------------------------------- | Name | Office | Address | |---------------|--------------------|--------------------| | John Jones | Governor | Belvidere, Ill. | | Thomas Smith | Attorney General | Oakland, Ill. | ---------------------------------------------------------

Name __________________ Address ___________________

State of Illinois ) ) SS. County of ...


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