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Courtney v. County Officers Electoral Board

June 30, 2000

THOMAS FRANCIS COURTNEY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD; HONORABLE DAVID ORR, BY DANIEL P. MADDEN; HONORABLE RICHARD A. DEVINE, BY DAVID A. BONOMA; HONORABLE AURELIA PUCINSKI, BY JEFFREY M. JACOB; AND THE CHICAGO BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS AND ITS MEMBERS, LANGDON NEAL, THERESA PETRONE AND RICHARD COWEN; AND DAVID ORR, AS COOK COUNTY CLERK; ROBERT F. HOGAN; AND NADINE M. ZAPOLSKY, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County County Department, County Division No. 00CO-E-0001 Consolidated with 00CO-E-0002 The Honorable Shelli D. Williams-Hayes, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Cousins

Petitioner, Thomas Courtney, appeals the trial court's affirmance of the removal of his name by respondents, the Cook County Officers Electoral Board; Honorable David Orr, by Daniel P. Madden; Honorable Richard A. Devine, by David A. Bonoma; Honorable Aurelia Pucinski, by Jeffrey M. Jacob; and the Chicago Board Of Election Commissioners and its members, Langdon Neal, Theresa Petrone and Richard Cowen;and David Orr, as Cook County Clerk, from the March 21, 2000, ballot as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the office of commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Petitioner's candidacy was objected to by Robert F. Hogan and Nadine M. Zapolsky, objectors, in proceedings before the Cook County Electoral Board because petitioner did not simultaneously file his nominating petition sheets and statement of candidacy.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the office of commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in the March 21, 2000, election. He filed over 9,000 signatures for an office that required a minimum of 4,839 signatures for the Democratic nomination.

The sole issue that is the subject of this review is the objection that petitioner did not simultaneously file his nominating petition sheets and his statement of candidacy. It is agreed by the parties that the statement of candidacy, a single document, was filed three days after the nominating petition sheets but well within the filing deadlines for all nominations as prescribed by statute.

The electoral board and circuit court granted the objectors' petitions and removed petitioner from the ballot based on the separate filing of the statement of candidacy from the petition sheets. Petitioner appealed and this court granted an expedited briefing schedule. On February 15, 2000, this court reversed the decision of the trial court and ordered petitioner's name to be placed on the March 21, 2000 ballot. This court also wrote that a "more detailed memorandum of this decision shall issue in due course."

ANALYSIS

Petitioner contends that his failure to simultaneously file his statement of candidacy with his nomination petition sheets did not mandate that his name be stricken from the March 21, 2000, ballot. Specifically, petitioner contends that the filing of his petition sheets and statement of candidacy within the statutorily prescribed filing period constituted substantial compliance with the requirements of the Illinois Election Code, (10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 1998)), even though he did not file both documents at the same time.

Respondents contend that the election statute expressly declares the submission of statements of candidacy with nomination petitions to be mandatory. Here, respondents specifically contend that petitioner's failure to simultaneously file his statement of candidacy and petition sheets vitiated his candidacy pursuant to sections 1-3(12) and 7-10 of the Illinois Election Code. 10 ILCS 5/1-3(12); 7-10 (West 1998). We disagree with respondents' interpretation of these provisions as applied to the facts of the instant case.

The general purposes of election laws is to obtain fair and honest elections and to obtain a correct expression of the intent of the voters. Ferguson v. Ryan, 251 Ill. App. 3d 1042, 1047, 623 N.E.2d 1004, 1008 (1993) (minor procedural statutory violations during caucus to select slate of candidates from the Democratic party to run for township offices did not vitiate election proceedings). A court, under the appearance of enforcing election laws, should not defeat the very objects those laws were intended to achieve. Ferguson, 251 Ill. App. 3d at 1047, 623 N.E.2d at 1008.

Whether an enactment is directory or mandatory depends on the legislative intention, to be ascertained from the nature and object of the act and the consequences that would result from any given construction. Village of Mundelein v. Hartnett, 117 Ill. App. 3d 1011, 1016, 454 N.E.2d 29, 33 (1983).

Section 1-3(12) of the Election Code provides:

"'Petition' of candidacy as used in Sections 7-10 and 7-10.1 shall consist of a statement of candidacy, candidate's statement containing oath, and sheets containing signatures of qualified primary ...


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