Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Raymond Jagielski, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn
Two sets of plaintiffs, who included Tara Brooks, Mary Strikland, Evie Crosby, Regina Fields, Johnny Solomon, Cheryl Wilson, Reva Price, Michael Lynch, Esmeralda Lopez, Bryan Tubbs, Christine Clark, Curtis Jeffers, Juanita T. Randle, Diane Randle, Willie B. Randle, Jr., Lawrence Tate and Ernest Lee, each filed a complaint to contest the validity of a local option election conducted in the 28th and 34th precincts of the 29th ward of the City of Chicago. In the election, two propositions regarding whether the sale of retail alcoholic liquor should be prohibited in the precincts were submitted to the voters. Plaintiffs' complaints, which were subsequently consolidated, alleged that the defendant, Board of Election Commissioners of the City of Chicago (the Board), submitted a ballot that was both "inherently vague and ambiguous" and "an illegal referendum and form of ballot." Following a hearing on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiffs' motion. Plaintiffs now appeal.
On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the ballot: (1) fails to substantially comply with the Liquor Control Act of 1934 (235 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 1994); and (2) violates the Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. §1973aa-1a(b)(1)(b)(2)(A)(i) (I)(1994)).
For the following reasons, we affirm.
On November 7, 2000, a local option election was held in the 28th and 34th precincts of the 29th ward in Chicago. The Board, in its capacity, caused two propositions to be submitted to the voters in that election which asked whether the retail sale of alcohol should be prohibited in those precincts.
The Board has utilized a punch card system of voting in all precincts in Chicago since 1982. Since the March 2000 primary election, the Board has used a punch card ballot containing 456 punch positions and corresponding numbers. The ballot card is inserted into a ballot book assembly containing ballot label pages with the names and ballot position numbers of each candidate, as well as any submitted propositions. For propositions, a ballot position number is assigned to a punch position enabling a "Yes" vote, while a separate ballot position number is assigned to a punch position enabling a "No" vote. The voter uses a stylus as a punching device to punch out the perforated squares, known as "chads," which correspond to the assigned ballot numbers.
Section 9-6 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1934 (Liquor Control Act) (235 ILCS 5/9-6 (West 1994)) specifies the format of local referenda on the retail sale of alcoholic liquor and provides that the proposition be in substantially the following form:
Shall the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor (or alcoholic liquor other than beer containing not more than 4% of alcohol by weight) (or alcoholic liquor containing more than 4% alcohol by weight in the original package and not for consumption on the premises) be prohibited in (or at) ...............? YES/NO
The form of the propositions on the ballot utilized in the November 7, 2000, local election looked roughly as follows:
414/SI/YES "Shall the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor be prohibited in this 28th Precinct of the 29th Ward of the City of Chicago?" (as such precinct existed as of the last General Election)
416/NO/NO "Debe la venta al detal bebidas alcoholicas ser prohibida en este 28avo Recinto del 29avo Distrito de la Ciudad de Chicago?" (como tal recinto existia desde la ultima Eleccion General)
On November 27, 2000, two sets of plaintiffs, legal voters in the two named precincts of the 29th ward, filed complaints against the Board challenging the validity of the local option election. The complaints alleged that the Board's submitted ballot: (1) did not comply with the Liquor Control Act (235 ILCS 5/9-6 (West 1994)), and (2) in form, unequally affected two competing classes because it unjustly benefitted the proponents of the proposition and unjustly ...