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SULLIVAN v. REDNOUR

October 6, 1997

CLINTON A. KRISLOV and JOAN A. SULLIVAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
WANDA L. REDNOUR, Chairman of the State Board of Elections; HANNELORE HUISMAN, Vice Chairman of the State Board of Elections; RONALD D. MICHAELSON, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections; and KENNETH R. BOYLE, JUDITH A. JONES, MITCHELL P. KOBELINSKI, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, and THERESA M. PETRONE, Members of the State Board of Elections, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

 The named plaintiffs, Clinton A. Krislov and Joan A. Sullivan, brought suit on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated individuals against the defendants, officials of the Illinois State Board of Elections ("State Board of Elections"), claiming that certain ballot-access provisions of the Illinois Election Code ("Election Code") and procedures employed by the State Board of Elections violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Both sides move for summary judgment on the issue of whether the Election Code provision requiring a petition circulator to be a registered voter in the candidates' "political division" is constitutional. For the following reasons, the defendants' motion is granted and the plaintiffs' motion is denied.

 Background1

 Mr. Krislov and Ms. Sullivan were candidates for federal office in the March 19, 1996 Democratic primary election. Mr. Krislov ran for the party's nomination as a U.S. Senator from Illinois, while Ms. Sullivan sought nomination as a Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives for the Seventh Congressional District. The State Board of Elections supervises the administration of the election laws throughout Illinois.

 Pursuant to the Election Code, to be placed on the primary ballot, a candidate must gather a requisite number of valid nominating signatures. The plaintiffs' nominating petitions contained more than the requisite number of signatures. Objectors, however, challenged the validity of these signatures on various grounds set forth in the Election Code. One of the grounds upon which the plaintiffs' nominating petitions were challenged was that the circulators that collected signatures on the petitions were not registered voters in the political division the plaintiffs were seeking nomination. This is an Election Code requirement. 10 ILCS 5/7-10. The procedures for verifying the challenged signatures, established by the State Board of Elections, consumed the candidates' time, as well as financial and manpower resources. Mr. Krislov withdrew from the campaign; Ms. Sullivan continued, but lost the nomination.

 Constitutionality of the Registered Voter Requirement

 The plaintiffs claim that the requirement in Section 7-10 of the Illinois Election Code that the circulator of a candidate's nominating petition be a registered voter in the political division for which the candidate is seeking a nomination violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs contend that Section 7-10 severely restricts the pool of available circulators without any legitimate state interest. *fn2" Section 7-10 does restrict the pool of individuals who may be petition circulators. Section 7-10 requires that:

 
at the bottom of each sheet of [a nominating] petition shall be added a statement signed by a registered voter of the political division, who has been a registered voter at all times he or she circulated the petition, for which the candidate is seeking the nomination, stating the street address or rural route number of the voter, as the case may be, as well as the voter's city, village, or town....

 10 ILCS 5/7-10 (emphasis added).

 Accordingly, circulators must be registered voters in the "political division" the candidate is seeking a nomination. A "political division" is the district for which office is sought. (Zimmer Aff. P 4). Thus, Mr. Krislov, because he sought a nomination to the United States Senate, could utilize any voter registered in Illinois to circulate petitions. Ms. Sullivan, since she sought a nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Seventh Congressional District, could only use circulators registered to vote in the Seventh Congressional District. The defendants argue there are compelling state interests for Section 7-10's registered voter requirement.

 A court deciding whether an election law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment must:

 
weigh 'the character and magnitude of the asserted injury to the rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments that the plaintiff seeks to vindicate' against 'the precise interest put forward by the State as justifications for the burden imposed by its rule,' taking into consideration 'the extent to which those interests make it necessary to burden the plaintiff's rights.'

 Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 434, 119 L. Ed. 2d 245, 112 S. Ct. 2059 (1992)(quoting Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780, 789, 75 L. Ed. 2d 547, 103 S. Ct. 1564 (1983)). If the state law severely restricts a plaintiff's rights, then the regulation must be narrowly drawn and serve a compelling interest. Id. When the state law, however, "imposes only 'reasonable, nondiscriminatory restrictions' upon the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters, 'the State's important regulatory interests are generally sufficient to justify' the restrictions." Id. (quoting Anderson, 460 U.S. at 788).

 "Common sense, as well as constitutional law, compels the conclusion that government must play an active role in structuring elections; 'as a practical matter, there must be a substantial regulation of elections if they are to be fair and honest and if some sort of order, rather than chaos, is to accompany the democratic processes." Burdick, 504 U.S. at 433 (quoting Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 730, 39 L. Ed. 2d 714, 94 S. Ct. 1274 (1974)). The Seventh Circuit has interpreted Supreme Court precedent to require the State to present a "logical justification" for a challenged regulation. Citizens for John W. Moore Party v. Board of Election Commissioners, 794 F.2d 1254, 1257 (7th Cir. 1986). The State is not required to provide empirical support for its regulations. The Supreme Court has "allowed states to justify regulation of elections with logical rather than empirical support in order to preserve the fundamentally political character of these ...


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