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Mashni Corp. v. Laski

June 21, 2004

[5] MASHNI CORPORATION, BY FARIDA MASHNI; S. & T., INC., BY TAE HWAN HAN, SHELDON WILLIS, RONALD ISON, CHARLES JASKIEWICZ, EUGENE BRAMLETT, THOMAS V. NOWCZYK, DONNA J. YOUMANS, JUDY A. BROWN, AND BELINDA RANSOM, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
JAMES J. LASKI, CLERK OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, AND THE BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS FOR THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS
(BARBARA STANLEY, PAUL UHL, MICHAEL ROPER, RICHARD SCHUMACHER, RAND RINGGENBERG, ANITA PIKE, AND LOUISE MOLNAR, INTERVENORS-APPELLANTS).



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 03 COEL 09. Honorable Nathaniel R. Howse, Jr., Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McBRIDE

[8]  The Liquor Control Act of 1934 allows individual political precincts in cities of more than 200,000 inhabitants to hold binding referenda as to whether to prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic liquor within their geographic boundaries. 235 ILCS 5/9-2 (West 2002) (Act). A "local option" referendum will be printed on a precinct's ballot when at least 25% of its legal voters sign a petition in favor of putting the question there. 235 ILCS 5/9-2 (West 2002). The proper form of a local option petition is dictated by the general Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1 (West 2002)) (Code) and the Act. 235 ILCS 5/9-4 (West 2002). In combination, the statutes mandate that each petition sheet include an affidavit from the circulator disclosing his or her address and certifying, among other things, that the signatures were signed in his or her presence and are genuine. 235 ILCS 5/9-4 (West 2002); 10 ILCS 5/28-3 (West 2002). The addition of the petition circulator's affidavit is intended to ensure against fraud and protect the integrity of the political process by subjecting the circulator to the possibility of criminal prosecution. See, e.g., Brennan v. Kolman, 335 Ill. App. 3d 716, 720, 781 N.E.2d 644, 647 (2002). The statutes further provide, however, that a person may revoke his or her signature from a local option petition. 235 ILCS 5/9-4 (West 2002); 10 ILCS 5/28-3 (West 2002). The primary question on appeal is whether the circulator's affidavit provisions apply to petition signature revocation documents. This is a matter of first impression.

[9]  Individuals opposed to the retail sale of alcoholic liquor in the 32nd precinct of the 48th Ward of the City of Chicago filed a local option petition with defendant city clerk James J. Laski, in anticipation of the election scheduled for February 23, 2003. The precinct is in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. At the time, there were only two retail liquor stores in Edgewater: plaintiff Mashni Corporation was doing business at 1100 West Granville Avenue as Granville Food & Liquors, and plaintiff S&T, Inc. was doing business across the street at 1101 West Granville Avenue as Sun Liquors. There were 427 registered voters in the precinct in the last general election, and the petition was supported by 197 signatures.

[10]   An attorney representing the two retail liquor licensees and eight individual voters from the precinct subsequently filed 96 signature revocation documents with the city clerk. The documents consisted of printed typewritten forms prepared by the attorney, which included a description of the petition at issue and blank spaces to be filled in by hand:

[11]   "REVOCATION

[12]   TO: JAMES J. LASKI

[13]   CLERK OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO

[14]   CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60602

[15]   The undersigned resident and legal voter of the 32nd Precinct in the 48th Ward of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, signed (his or her) name as a signer on Sheet ___ Line ___ on the ___ day of ___, 2002, of the Petition consisting of 38 pages which has previously been filed in your offices on or about November 26, 2002. The Petition proposed that the following question be placed on the ballot of the election to be held in Chicago, Illinois on February 25, 2003:

[16]   'SHALL THE SALE AT RETAIL OF ALCOHOLIC LIQUOR BE PROHIBITED IN THIS 32nd Precinct OF THE 48th Ward OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO?' (as such precinct existed as of the last General Election)

[17]   In accordance with Chapter 235, Section 5/9-4, of the Illinois [Compiled] Statues concerning the Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1934, as amended, entitled 'Local Referendum,' I now exercise my right as a previous signer to hereby revoke my signature from said Petition.

[18]   NAME: _______________________________

[19]   ADDRESS: ____________________________

[20]   32nd Precinct of the 48th Ward ...


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