Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Michael Murphy, Judge Presiding.
Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied December 6, 1995.
The Honorable Justice Rakowski delivered the opinion of the court: McNAMARA, P.j., and Zwick, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rakowski
JUSTICE RAKOWSKI delivered the opinion of the court:
This case concerns the right of respondents Daniel H. Carter, Sarah Ann (Sally) Oliver, and Joseph G. (Jay) Rowell to have their names printed on the ballot as candidates for Trustee of the Village of Wilmette, Illinois. The Electoral Board (Board) found the objections filed by petitioners failed to comply with the requirements of section 10-8 of the Election Code (Code) (10 ILCS 5/10-8 (West 1992)), and, therefore, dismissed the objections. Alternatively, the Board found that the page numbering defects in the nominating petitions were an insufficient basis for disqualifying respondents. The circuit court reversed the decisions of the Board, and ordered respondents removed from the ballot. In its order, the circuit court held the objections to the nominating petitions were legally sufficient under section 10-8 of the Code, and also found that the page numbering requirement of section 10-4 of the Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 1992)) is mandatory. After an expedited appeal, we affirmed the judgment of the circuit court by order, stating that an opinion would follow.
We address the following issues: (1) whether the objections to the nominating petitions are legally sufficient under section 10-8 of the Code; and (2) whether the page numbering provision of section 10-4 of the Code is mandatory.
Respondents contend that the objections filed by petitioners are legally insufficient because of noncompliance with certain provisions of section 10-8 of the Code. Such noncompliance includes the failure to provide a copy of the objections, misnaming the office for which the objections were filed, and allegedly misstating the interests of the objectors, the meaningful relief requested of the Board, and the objectors' legal voter status as required by section 10-8 of the Code. Although election officials, including objectors, are obligated to comply with all of the provisions of the Code, it does not follow that every noncompliance will invalidate a ballot or an objection as in the present case. ( Pullen v. Mulligan (1990), 138 Ill. 2d 21, 47, 561 N.E.2d 585, 149 Ill. Dec. 215.) "Where the effect of failure to comply with a particular statutory requirement is not specified, however, courts must consider the nature and object of the statutory provision and the consequences which would result from construing it one way or another." Pullen, 138 Ill. 2d at 78.
In the instant case, petitioners filed only the original of the objections, rather than an original and a copy as provided by section 10-8 of the Code which states in part:
"[The objector] shall file an objector's petition together with a copy thereof in the *** office of the election authority or local election official with whom the certificate of nomination, nomination papers or petitions are on file." (10 ILCS 5/10-8.)
Providing a copy in addition to the original petition is not a requirement which is essential to the validity of the election process. As the provision above is "designed to secure order, system and dispatch in proceedings," without providing a penalty for noncompliance, it is deemed directory. ( Shipley v. Stephenson County Electoral Board (1985), 130 Ill. App. 3d 900, 902-03, 474 N.E.2d 905, 85 Ill. Dec. 945.) Accordingly, such noncompliance with section 10-8 does not render the objections legally insufficient.
Respondents also contend the use of the term "Commissioner" instead of the term "Trustee" in the original objections made the objections so confusing that they should be deemed legally defective. However, the record shows that both the original and the corrected objections were served upon respondents within hours of filing. Further, although there is an office of Commissioner of the Wilmette Park District, that office and entity are entirely separate from the office of Trustee and the Village of Wilmette. As the objections to each respective office would have to be filed with different election officials, at different locations, and heard by different Boards, there was no basis for confusion as to the office of Trustee of the Village of Wilmette for which the objections were filed. Finally, section 10-8 of the Code contains no requirement that the candidate or the office be precisely identified in the objections. Absent an express mandate in the statute, we cannot conclude that an error in referring to the office for which the candidates seek is fatal to the objections.
The morning after the final day for filing objections, petitioners attempted to "correct typographical errors" in the objections which named the office of Commissioner rather than Trustee. The Board denied the motion to correct the error, stating that the objections could not be cured by amendment after the expiration of five business days allowed by section 10-8 of the Code. ( Stein v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board (1994), 264 Ill. App. 3d 447, 449, 636 N.E.2d 1060, 201 Ill. Dec. 628.) The circuit court reversed, finding that petitioners' attempt to correct the error was not an amendment, but instead was a permissible correction of a scrivener's error. While we do not consider the error to be one of a scrivener, we find no confusion or prejudice to respondents in view of the fact that both they and the Board knew that there is no office of Commissioner in the Village of Wilmette. Aside from conclusory allegations, respondents have failed to articulate evidence of any confusion, prejudice, or detriment as a result of the misidentification or correction thereof. Moreover, petitioners did not seek to add any new objections, as was the case in Stein; they merely sought to replace and correct the superfluous term "Commissioner" with that of "Trustee." Assuming arguendo that it was error to permit petitioners to correct the objections, it was harmless since we conclude that the use of the descriptive term "Commissioner" did not render the objections legally deficient.
Respondents next argue that the circuit court erred in conducting a hearing on the objections because petitioners failed to accurately state their interests, the meaningful relief requested, and legal voter status in violation ...