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02/19/88 Sheneather Y. Butler Et Al v. Sheneather Y. Butler Et Al

February 19, 1988

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION VELPO ANTHONY ET AL., PETITIONERS-APPELLEES

v.

SHENEATHER Y. BUTLER ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS



519 N.E.2d 1193, 166 Ill. App. 3d 575, 117 Ill. Dec. 26 1988.IL.240

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Michael Murphy, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and JOHNSON, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCMORROW

Sheneather Butler (Butler) filed nominating papers for the office of Democratic ward committeeman in the city of Chicago for the March 15, 1988, primary election. A week later, Butler filed a second set of nominating papers for the same office for the same primary election. Velpo Anthony and others (hereinafter collectively Anthony) filed an objection to Butler's nominating papers. Following a hearing before a hearing officer of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, ex officio Chicago Electoral Board (Board), the officer determined that Butler's nominating papers were sufficient to place her name upon the ballot for the primary election. Thereafter the Board issued a decision which also reached this Conclusion.

Anthony filed an action for administrative review of the Board's decision in the circuit court of Cook County. Upon such review, the trial court entered an order that reversed the Board's decision and remanded the matter with directions. Butler appeals.

Butler's appeal presents three questions: (1) does section 7-10 of the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 46, par. 7-10) permit a candidate to file more than one set of nominating papers for the office sought; (2) does section 7-10 permit a candidate to file photocopies, rather than originals, of petition sheets in the candidate's nominating papers; and (3) does the Election Code permit a trial court's invalidation of all petition signatures in excess of the maximum number allowed under the Code, when the Board has adopted no rule or regulation, to govern the validity of excess signatures included in a candidate's nominating papers, in accordance with the directives of Richards v. Lavelle (7th Cir. 1980), 620 F.2d 144.

We reverse trial court's order in part, affirm in part, and remand the matter to the Board for further proceedings.

Background

On December 7, 1987, Butler filed nominating papers for the office of Democratic ward committeeman of the 27th ward in the city of Chicago for the March 15, 1988, primary election. The papers included approximately 7,000 signatures on individual petition sheets. A week later, Butler filed a second set of nominating papers for the same office in the election. These papers included approximately 2,000 signatures.

In late December, Anthony filed an objection to Butler's nominating papers, contending that the papers were invalid because two sets of nominating papers had been filed and because the papers included more than the maximum number of signatures permitted in the Election Code. Anthony also contended in his objection that certain signatures were invalid and should not be counted because, inter alia, the signatures appeared on "sheets on which the purported names are photocopied." Anthony requested a hearing on his objections, a declaration that Butler's nominating papers were insufficient, and an order that Butler's name be stricken and not printed upon the official ballot for the March 15, 1988, primary election.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, ex officio Chicago Electoral Board, assigned the matter to a hearing officer. Butler filed a motion to strike Anthony's objection, to which Anthony filed a response. After argument, the hearing officer overruled Butler's motion to strike the objection, determined that Butler's two petitions constituted a single filing, and ordered a binder check to review the signatures against objections. The hearing officer further determined that photocopies of petition sheets, not otherwise duplicated or appearing in the nominating papers, should be included in the binder check. Thereafter it was determined, and the hearing officer so found, that Butler's nominating papers contained the requisite minimum number of valid signatures, because there were sufficient signatures appearing therein to which Anthony had not otherwise objected.

The Board then issued its decision on Anthony's objections, overruled the objections, and found Butler's nominating petitions sufficient. Specifically, the Board found, inter alia, that: (1) Butler could properly file two complete sets of nominating papers for the same office, since the Code does not prohibit such dual filing; (2) Butler could properly submit papers which contained photocopies of signatures on the petition sheets, because the Code does not prohibit such a procedure; and (3) Butler could properly submit papers containing more than the maximum number of signatures required under the Code, since the "Board, in the absence of rules governing this issue, [cannot] per se invalidate signatures filed in excess of the maximum. The Board's practice . . . has been to count all signatures, even those in excess of the maximum."

Anthony then filed an action for administrative review of the Board's decision in the circuit court of Cook County. Upon such review, the trial court found that: (1) Butler could properly file only one set of nominating papers under the Code, and as a result the second set of nominating papers filed by Butler was "null and void and should be treated as a surplusage and not as part of the nominating petition"; (2) Butler could not properly submit papers which contained photocopies of signatures, and such photocopies of signatures "should not be counted as valid signatures"; and (3) inasmuch as Butler's paper contained more than the maximum number of signatures permitted under the Code, "only the first 2,445 signatures should be counted for purposes of determining the validity of the nominating petition. . . in calculating the maximum number of signatures, those signatures on the photocopies shall be ...


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