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Carnell v. Madison County Officers Electoral Board

October 16, 1998

RONALD G. CARNELL, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
MADISON COUNTY OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD, HONORABLE MARK VON NIDA, HONORABLE WILLIAM R. HAINE, HONORABLE MATT MELUCCI, AND MAC G. WARFIELD, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hopkins

IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS FIFTH DISTRICT

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County.

No. 98-MR-265

Honorable James Hackett, Judge, presiding.

The petitioner, Ronald G. Carnell, appeals from a final order of the Madison County circuit court denying Carnell's petition for judicial review of a decision of respondent Madison County Officers Electoral Board (Electoral Board). On appeal, Carnell argues that the hearing conducted by the Electoral Board was fatally flawed because the Electoral Board failed to follow the statutory requirement of adopting rules of procedure for the introduction of evidence and arguments. Carnell additionally argues that the Electoral Board's decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence and, as a result, the trial court erred by not overturning that decision. We affirm.

FACTS

Prior to the March 17, 1998, primary election, no candidate sought the Republican party's nomination for the office of State Representative for the 111th Representative District of the Illinois General Assembly. Consequently, a vacancy in nomination existed. On May 18, 1998, Carnell filed nomination papers with the State Board of Elections in his attempt to fill the vacancy in nomination.

The nomination papers included a "Resolution to Fill a Vacancy in Nomination" (the Resolution), on which the Madison County Central Committee of the Republican Party (the County Central Committee) was listed as the nominating entity. Respondent Mac G. Warfield (the objector) filed a petition alleging that the resolution to fill the vacancy was invalid because the County Central Committee had no authority to fill a vacancy for the office of State Representative and because the nomination was not made as required by the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 1996)).

On June 3, 1998, the Electoral Board conducted a hearing on the objector's petition. Carnell did not appear at the hearing, but James Mihalich, the chairman of the County Central Committee, appeared on Carnell's behalf. Mihalich is not an attorney. The objector was also present and was represented by an attorney, Michael Kasper. At this hearing, the Electoral Board admitted Carnell's nomination papers into evidence without objection from Mihalich.

Kasper argued that the resolution to fill the vacancy was legally insufficient because no duly constituted representative committee nominated Carnell to fill the vacancy in the office of State Representative and that this legal insufficiency was dispositive. Kasper argued that if the Board did not consider the nomination papers to be dispositive, he would request the right to subpoena witnesses in support of the objector's petition. Mihalich admitted that Carnell was nominated by Mihalich and two other members of the County Central Committee and that Mihalich chose the other two members without submitting the choice of these members to a vote of the County Central Committee. Mihalich acknowledged that he did not follow the requirements of the Election Code when he formed the committee that nominated Carnell, but he urged the Electoral Board to give him some "latitude," since he had good intentions and believed he followed his party's preference by nominating Carnell.

The Electoral Board upheld the objector's petition in a written order, dated June 8, 1998. In its order, the Electoral Board found that the Election Code requires that the nomination for the State Representative from the 111th District be made by a representative committee, comprised of the chairman of the County Central Committee and two other members of that committee who are elected by all of the members of the County Central Committee. See 10 ILCS 5/8-5 (West 1996). The Electoral Board found that Carnell's nomination was made by a "political body other than the Representative Committee for the 111th District."

Finally, the Electoral Board found that the Election Code provides that no person's name shall be placed on an official ballot for the general election unless that person was nominated in compliance with article 8 of the Election Code, and since Carnell was not nominated in compliance with the Election Code, his name "should not be placed upon the official ballot to be voted at the November 3, 1998, general election."

On June 12, 1998, Carnell filed a petition seeking judicial review of the Electoral Board's decision. On July 8, 1998, the trial court conducted a hearing on Carnell's petition for judicial review. Carnell was present and represented by an attorney. The report of the proceedings before the Electoral Board was admitted into evidence without objection. After hearing the arguments of counsel for all ...


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