As Corrected February 19, 2015.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 14-MR-496. Honorable Heinz M. Rudolf, Judge, presiding.
Substantial compliance with the number of valid signatures required for an independent candidate's nomination papers is sufficient to retain his name on the ballot for an upcoming mayoral election.
For Appellant: Eric W. Evans, Evans Blasi, Granite City, IL.
For Appellees: Garrett P. Hoerner, Becker, Paulson, Hoerner & Thompson, P.C., Belleville, IL (attorney for Alvin L. Parks, Jr.); Richard Sturgeon, Attorney at Law, Belleville, IL (attorney for Edna R. Allen, East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, Elmer D. Jones, Joseph McCaskill).
JUSTICE SCHWARM delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Welch and Moore concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] In this expedited appeal, we are asked to determine whether substantial compliance with the signature requirement for an independent candidate's nomination papers is sufficient to retain his name on the ballot for an upcoming mayoral election. For the following reasons, we conclude that it is.
[¶3] The petitioner, Emeka Jackson-Hicks, a candidate for the office of mayor of East St. Louis, filed an objector's petition with the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners (the Board) challenging the nomination papers of incumbent candidate Alvin Parks, Jr. (Parks). See 10 ILCS 5/10-8 (West 2012). The petitioner maintained that Parks' name should be excluded from the ballot for the February 24, 2015, consolidated primary election on the grounds that his nomination papers failed to include the minimum number of voter signatures required by law.
[¶4] On December 10, 2014, the Board held a hearing on the petitioner's objection. See 10 ILCS 5/10-9 (West 2012). The evidence before the Board established that pursuant to section 10-3 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2012)), Parks' nomination papers required a minimum of 136 voter signatures. The evidence further established that although Parks had garnered a total of 171 signatures, 48 had been deemed invalid. His nomination papers thus included a total of 123 valid signatures, 13 short of the minimum required. Notably, when arguing that the petitioner's objection should be denied, the respondents cited Atkinson v. Schelling, 2013 IL App. (2d) 130140, as controlling precedent.
[¶5] At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board unanimously voted to deny the petitioner's objection and subsequently issued a written statement of its findings and decision. See 10 ILCS 5/10-10 (West 2012). In its written statement, the Board held that although Parks had been statutorily required to obtain 136 valid signatures on his nomination papers, he had substantially complied with the requirement by obtaining 123. The Board thus ruled that Parks' name would remain on the ballot for the February 24, 2015, consolidated primary election.
[¶6] On December 12, 2014, in the circuit court of St. Clair County, the petitioner filed a petition for judicial review of the Board's decision. See 10 ILCS 5/10-10.1 (West 2012). On January 12, 2015, the cause proceeded to a hearing. At the hearing, citing ...