Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 94-MR-16. Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication March 3, 1994.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Quetsch
JUSTICE QUETSCH delivered the opinion of the court:
Timothy P. Whelan filed a petition seeking to have his name placed on the ballot for the March 15, 1994, Republican primary for the office of State senator for the 20th legislative district. Vernon W. Miller objected to the petition, challenging the validity of certain signatures appearing on the petition, and claiming that the remaining signatures were insufficient in number to authorize Whelan's name to be placed on the ballot. The county officers' electoral board of Du Page County (the board) essentially adopted a hearing officer's findings and concluded that Whelan's petition contained only 557 valid signatures. The board and Miller have since conceded that the board improperly excluded two valid signatures, so that the total number of valid signatures is 559. Since 600 signatures were necessary (10 ILCS 5/8-8 (West 1992)), the board determined that Whelan's name should not appear on the ballot.
Whelan filed a petition for judicial review in the circuit court of Du Page County, challenging the board's decision with respect to 47 of the signatures the board had excluded. On January 20, 1994, following arguments by the parties, the circuit court found that the 47 signatures in question were improperly excluded and ordered that Whelan's name be placed on the ballot. Miller appeals from that order. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
Of the signatures in question, the board found one to be invalid because the signer was registered to vote at a different address from that shown opposite her signature on the petition. The dispute apparently centered upon the legibility of the handwritten address on the petition. The circuit court concluded that the address on the petition could be read to be the same address listed for the signer in voter registration records and found that the board's decision to disqualify the signature was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
The other 46 signatures at issue appear on petition sheets circulated by Susan Erickson, who collected 40 signatures, and Sylvia Ferry, who collected 6 signatures. The board disqualified these signatures because Ms. Erickson and Ms. Ferry were registered to vote at addresses which were different from the addresses set forth in their circulator's affidavits at the bottom of the petition sheets. The circuit court essentially concluded that the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 1992)) imposes no requirement that the address in the circulator's affidavit match the address where he or she is registered to vote.
We first consider the circuit court's ruling with regard to the signatures on petition sheets circulated by Ms. Erickson and Ms. Ferry. The nomination of candidates for membership in the General Assembly is governed by article 8 of the Election Code. (10 ILCS 5/8-1 (West 1992).) Section 8-8 of the Election Code sets forth the requirements for the nominating petitions for such candidates and provides in pertinent part:
"All petitions for nomination for the office of State Senator shall be signed by 1% or 600, whichever is greater, of the qualified primary electors of the candidate's party in his legislative district, except that for the first primary following a redistricting of legislative districts, such petitions shall be signed by at least 600 qualified primary electors of the candidate's party in his legislative district.
Opposite the signature of each qualified primary elector who signs a petition for nomination for the office of State Representative or State Senator such elector's residence address shall be written or printed. * * *
In the affidavit at the bottom of each sheet, the petition circulator, who shall have been a registered voter at all times he or she circulated the petition, shall state his street address or rural route number, as the case may be, as well as his city, village or town." (Emphasis added.) 10 ILCS 5/8-8 (West Supp. 1992).
It appears to be undisputed that Ms. Erickson and Ms. Ferry were registered voters at the time they circulated Whelan's petition, although they were registered at different addresses than were set forth in their affidavits on the challenged petition sheets. Apparently, both had moved from the addresses where they were registered, but had not transferred their registration to their new addresses. As noted above, section 8-8 requires that the petition circulator be registered to vote and that the circulator's affidavit indicate his or her address. Although in its written decision the board found that Ms. Erickson and Ms. Ferry were "registered to vote at addresses other than those stated on the circulators' affidavits," in the proceedings before the circuit court the board and Miller suggested that Ms. Erickson's and Ms. Ferry's uncorrected registration at former addresses may no longer have been valid. Neither the board nor Miller cited any authority for this proposition during the proceedings below, and Miller has not pursued this line of reasoning in this appeal. Accordingly, we express no opinion on that possibility.
The sole question before us is whether the petition sheets circulated by Ms. Erickson and Ms. Ferry are invalid because the addresses in their circulator's affidavits do not match the addresses where they were registered to vote. While section 8-8 itself does not contain such a requirement, Miller ...