The statements of candidacy of petitioners who were seeking municipal offices in a Democratic primary election substantially complied with section 7-10 of the Election Code, notwithstanding the fact that the notarial jurat lacked the language that the candidate was “personally known” by the notary public, since the minor deviation did not render each candidate’s oath invalid; therefore, the trial court’s reversal of the Electoral Board’s decision striking petitioners’ names from the ballot was affirmed.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Nos. 2013-COEL-17, 2013-COEL-18, 2013-COEL-19; the Hon. Alfred J. Paul, Judge, presiding.
Counsel on James P. Nally, of James P. Nally, P.C., of Chicago, for appellants. Appeal
Adam W. Lasker, of Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni & Krafthefer, P.C., of Chicago, for appellees.
Panel: Justices Quinn and Fitzgerald Smith concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 This expedited appeal involved the validity of statements of candidacy of petitioners Imani Akin, Victor F. Green, Sr., and Hope E. Allen (Candidates). Candidates sought to run in the Democratic primary held on February 26, 2013, for certain offices of the City of Calumet City. Akin and Allen were candidates for the office of alderman. Green was a candidate for the office of mayor. Respondents-appellants Annie Smith, Stevon Grant, Deborah Haynes-Shegog, and Randy Barron (Objectors) each filed an objection petition,  contending that the statement of candidacy was deficient because the notarial jurat did not contain the relevant language "Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me by [Candidate], who is to me personally known." (Emphasis added.)
¶ 2 The Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City (the Electoral Board) sustained the objections finding that each Candidate's statement of candidacy did not comply with section 7-10 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/7-10 (West 2010)) because the notarial jurat did not include language stating that the candidate who executed the statement of candidacy in the presence of the certifying officer was "personally known" to the certifying officer. The Electoral Board concluded that each Candidate's nomination papers were deficient as a matter of law and invalid in their entirety. The Electoral Board therefore ordered that Candidates' names would not appear on the ballot for the February 26, 2013 consolidated primary election. Each Candidate petitioned the circuit court of Cook County, and the petitions were consolidated. On February 8, 2013, the circuit court reversed the Electoral Board's decision. On February 15, 2013, Objectors filed their notice of appeal of the circuit court's ruling. This court granted Objector's motion for expedited consideration of this case. On February 28, 2013, we entered an order affirming the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County that reversed the Electoral Board's decision and stated that our opinion would follow.
¶ 3 The issue in this case is whether Candidates' statements of candidacy complied with section 7-10 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/7-10 (West 2010)) where the notarial jurats did not include the phrase: "who is to me personally known." Our review is de novo. Cinkus v. Village of Stickney Municipal Officers Electoral Board, 228 Ill.2d 200, 211 (2008). "[A]lthough this case comes to us on appeal from the circuit court, we are actually reviewing the Electoral Board's decision ." Rita v. Mayden, 364 Ill.App.3d 913, 919 (2006). This court is not bound by an administrative agency's interpretation of a statute. King v. Justice Party, 284 Ill.App.3d 886, 888 (1996). However, although we review the statute de novo, the Electoral Board's interpretation of the Code is entitled to some deference, as it is the entity charged with interpreting the Election Code. Rita v. Mayden, 364 Ill.App.3d at 919.
¶ 4 Section 7-10 of the Election Code states in pertinent part:
"Form of petition for nomination. The name of no candidate ***shall be printed upon the primary ballot unless a petition for nomination has been filed in his behalf as provided in this Article in substantially the following form:
We, the undersigned, members of and affiliated with the .... party***, do hereby petition that the following named person or persons shall be a candidate ***of the .... party for the nomination for*** the office*** hereinafter specified, to be voted for at the primary election to be held on (insert date).
I, ...., do hereby certify that I reside at No. .... street, in the .... of ...., county of ...., and State of ....., that I am 18 years of age or older, that I am a citizen of the United States, and that the signatures on this sheet were signed in my presence, and are genuine, and that to the best of my knowledge and belief the persons so signing were at the time of signing the petitions qualified ...