Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 13MR79 Honorable Charles McRae Leonhard, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Steigmann
Carla Bender 4th District Appellate Court, IL
PRESIDING JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justice Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Pope specially concurred, with opinion.
¶ 1 On January 3, 2013, defendant John D. Stebbins filed an objection to the nominating petition of plaintiff, Laura Sandefur, challenging her placement on the ballot for the April 9, 2013, consolidated general election for township assessor. On January 18, 2013, defendant the Cunningham Township Electoral Board (the Board) sustained Stebbins' objection, ordering plaintiff's name not be placed on the ballot.
¶ 2 Plaintiff appeals, arguing that the Board erred by ordering her name not be placed on the ballot. Having expedited the case, we agree and reverse.
¶ 4 Plaintiff, with the help of Kevin Sandefur, her husband, began her campaign for township assessor by circulating nominating petitions for that office as a Democratic candidate for the Democratic consolidated primary election to be held on February 26, 2013. Plaintiff and Kevin signed several of those petitions as the circulating parties. Sometime before the Democratic primary, plaintiff declared her candidacy for the township assessor as an Independent.
¶ 5 As part of her campaign as an Independent, plaintiff circulated nominating petitions for the office of township assessor for the April 9, 2013, consolidated general election for that office. That circulating campaign resulted in 303 signatures, 195 of which were collected by plaintiff and Kevin. (The minimum number of signatures required to secure a place on the ballot was 248.)
¶ 6 In January 2013, Stebbins filed an objection to plaintiff's nominating petitions for her candidacy as an Independent, asserting, in pertinent part, that plaintiff and Kevin violated section 10-4 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 2010))-which purports to prohibit any person from circulating petitions for more than one political party (or candidate, if an Independent) in a single election cycle. The Board agreed that plaintiff and Kevin had violated section 10-4 of the Election Code. As a result, the Board disqualified 195 of the signatures-which, as previously stated, represented the number collected by plaintiff and Kevin-rendering plaintiff ineligible to be placed on the ballot because she fell short of the 248 signatures required to placed on the ballot.
¶ 7 Shortly thereafter, plaintiff filed a petition for judicial review of the Board's decision. In February 2013, the trial court affirmed the Board's decision, finding, in pertinent part, that the record showed that the Board "correctly applied section 10-4 to the undisputed facts of record and correctly concluded that [plaintiff] is ineligible to be on the April ballot."