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Whitney Wisnasky-Bettorf v. Peggy Pierce et al

March 22, 2012

WHITNEY WISNASKY-BETTORF,
APPELLANT,
v.
PEGGY PIERCE ET AL., APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Petitioner, Whitney Wisnasky-Bettorf, appeals from the circuit court's order sustaining petitioner's removal from the ballot for the general election held on November 2, 2010. A divided panel of the appellate court affirmed (403 Ill. App. 3d 1080), and we granted leave to appeal (Ill. S. Ct. R. 315 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010)). We now reverse the judgments of the circuit and appellate courts.

¶ 2 Background

¶ 3 At the Republican Party's general primary election held on February 2, 2010, no candidate's name for the office of board of review for St. Clair County, Illinois, was printed on the ballot, and no candidate was nominated as a write-in for that office. Accordingly, on March 25, 2010, the St. Clair County central committee of the Republican Party (the committee) held a meeting at which it passed a motion designating petitioner as the appointee for candidacy for the office of board of review member.

¶ 4 On April 1, 2010, the committee filed a "resolution/certificate of appointment" with the county clerk of St. Clair County, indicating that the executive committee of the Republican Party in St. Clair County had voted to nominate petitioner for the office of board of review member as required pursuant to section 7-61 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/7-61 et seq. (West 2010)). On April 16, 2010, petitioner filed her nominating petitions with the clerk together with the notice of appointment, her statement of candidacy and her receipt for filing a statement of economic interests.

¶ 5 On April 26, 2010, the objector, Peggy Pierce, filed a verified objector's petition requesting that petitioner's name not appear on the ballot for election to the office of board of review member because the resolution was not filed within three days as required by section 7-61. On April 30, 2010, the St. Clair County electoral board held a hearing on the objection. At the conclusion of the hearing, the St. Clair County electoral board sustained the objection and removed petitioner's name from the ballot for the general election to be held on November 2, 2010. In doing so, the St. Clair County electoral board stated the committee was required to file a resolution under section 7-61 in order to fill the vacancy in nomination and that this resolution was to be filed within three days after the committee's meeting on March 25, 2010.

¶ 6 On May 3, 2010, the St. Clair County electoral board entered a written decision, ordering that petitioner's name was to be removed from the ballot for the November 2, 2010, general election. On May 10, 2010, petitioner sought judicial review in the circuit court of St. Clair County, arguing that: (1) the committee was not required to file a resolution under section 7-61 in order for petitioner to fill the general primary vacancy, and (2) even if the committee were required to file a resolution, the objections in this case were untimely.

¶ 7 On June 2, 2010, the circuit court held a hearing on the petition.

Petitioner asked the court for relief, specifically to have her name placed back on the ballot for that election. At the conclusion of the hearing, the circuit court confirmed the decision of the St. Clair County electoral board.

¶ 8 A divided panel of our appellate court affirmed, holding section 7-61 required the filing of a resolution under the circumstances. 403 Ill. App. 3d 1080. The dissenting justice concluded that the amended portion of section 7-61 sets forth a distinct procedure for situations such as the case at hand and specifically substitutes a "notice of appointment" for the filing of a resolution. 403 Ill. App. 3d at 1091 (Spomer, J., dissenting). Petitioner seeks reversal of the judgment of the appellate court.

¶ 9 ANALYSIS

ΒΆ 10 ...


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