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Totten v. State Board of Elections

OPINION FILED MARCH 21, 1980.

DONALD L. TOTTEN ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Joseph Schneider, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Donald L. Totten and other plaintiffs brought an action in the circuit court of Cook County against the State Board of Elections (the Board) and the Illinois Republican State Central Committee. In it they sought to enjoin the Board from refusing to certify the presidential preferences of candidates for delegate and alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention and to order the Board to permit such preferences to appear next to the names of candidates on ballots to be used in the March 18, 1980, primary election.

The circuit court held for the defendants, and we took plaintiffs' appeal to this court under Rule 302(b) (73 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). After expedited briefing and oral argument we announced our decision from the bench, affirming the circuit court's judgment and stating that an opinion would follow.

Prior to the enactment on July 19, 1979, of House Bill 2618 (Pub. Act 81-135), section 7-10.3 of the Election Code required candidates for delegate or alternate delegate to a national nominating convention to file with the Board a statement of candidacy and to state the names of their presidential preferences or to declare that they were "uncommitted."

Section 7-10.3, as amended by House Bill 2618, now provides:

"(A) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (B) of this Section, a candidate for delegate or alternate delegate to a national nominating convention shall file with the State Board of Elections at the time of filing the statement of candidacy described in Section 7-10, a statement declaring the name of his preference for President of the United States or that he is uncommitted.

(B) The State central committee of a political party may choose to file a statement with the State Board of Elections not less than 30 days prior to the first day for filing the statement of candidacy described in Section 7-10, specifying that a candidate for delegate or alternate delegate shall not be required to file an official declaration statement pursuant to this Section.

If the State central committee of a political party specifies that any such official declaration statement is not required to be filed by the candidates for delegates and alternate delegates to the national nominating convention of any such political party, then no such declaration statement shall be required to be made." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 46, par. 7-10.3.

Section 7-19, which was also amended, states:

"Next to the name of each candidate for delegate or alternate delegate to a national noninating convention shall appear either (a) the name of the candidate's preference for President of the United States or the word `uncommitted' or (b) no official designation, depending upon the action taken by the State central committee pursuant to Section 7-10.3 of this Act." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 46, par. 7-19.

Acting under subsection (B) of section 7-10.3 the Republican State Central Committee on August 3, 1979, decided by resolution to run a "blind primary" and not to require candidates to file an official declaration of presidential preferences. The Board interpreted subsections (a) and (b) of section 7-19 to be mutually exclusive. The Board judged that subsection (B) of section 7-10.3 conferred upon the State central committee of a political party the option of having a so-called blind primary, which, when exercised, would bind the candidates of that party.

The plaintiffs note that subsection (B) of section 7-10.3 states that a candidate "`shall not be required to file an official declaration statement'" rather than that a candidate "shall not be permitted * * *." From this they argue that subsection (A) and it are not mutually exclusive. They say that subsection (B) was intended by the legislature to provide independent candidates with a preferable alternative to declaring that they were uncommitted, which they describe as having a "`rather weak, vacillating, unflattering connotation.'"

It is fundamental that the language of a statute is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning so that the legislature's intendment may be ascertained and given effect. (Dienes v. Holland (1979), 78 Ill.2d 8, 15; Franzese v. Trinko (1977), 66 Ill.2d 136, 139.) We do not consider that the plaintiffs' contention that subsections (A) and (B) were not to be mutually exclusive is valid. The legislature's use of the language "shall not be required" was not inconsistent with the Board's interpretation, as subsection (A) imposes on candidates seeking election as delegates the requirement of filing declarations of presidential preference or declarations of being uncommitted.

It is also fundamental in statutory construction that each section of a statute is to be examined in relation to all of its other provisions, so that when they are examined as a whole the intendment and meaning of the statute may be ascertained. (Huckaba v. Cox (1958), 14 Ill.2d 126, 131. See also Winks v. Board of Education (1979), 78 Ill.2d 128, 135.) Considering section 7-19 with section 7-10.3 it is clear that subsections (A) and (B) of section 7-10.3 are to be interpreted as separate and mutually exclusive alternatives. Section 7-19 specifically states that next to the name of a candidate shall appear "either (a) the name of the candidate's preference for President of the United States ...


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