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Schmidt v. The Illinois State Board of Elections

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

December 8, 2016

JULIE A. SCHMIDT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; STATE OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD; CHARLES W. SCHOLZ, ERNEST L. GOWEN, WILLIAM J. CADIGAN, ANDREW K. CARRUTHERS, BETTY J. COFFRIN, JOHN R. KEITH, WILLIAM M. McGUFFAGE, and CASANDRA B. WATSON, All in Their Official Capacities as Members of the Duly Constituted State Officers Electoral Board; JOHN A. CUNNINGHAM, Not Individually but in His Capacity as Kane County Clerk; DAVID ORR, Not Individually but in His Capacity as Cook County Clerk; and ANNA MOELLER, Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, No. 16-MR-22; the Hon. John P. Schmidt, Judge, presiding.

         Judgment Affirmed.

          Jeffrey A. Meyer (argued) and Peter Thomas Smith, of Klein, Stoddard, Buck & Lewis, LLC, of Sycamore, for appellant.

          Michael J. Kasper (argued), of Fletcher, Topol, O'Brien & Kasper, P.C., of Chicago, and James M. Morphew, of Sorling Northrup, of Springfield, for appellee Anna Moeller.

          Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield (Richard S. Huszagh, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for other appellees.

          Panel JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Turner and Holder White concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HARRIS, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In December 2015, plaintiff, Julie A. Schmidt, filed a petition with the Illinois State Board of Elections, sitting as the State Officers Electoral Board (Board), objecting to the nominating papers of defendant, Anna Moeller, a Democratic candidate for the office of Representative in the Illinois General Assembly for the 43rd Representative District. In response, Moeller filed a motion for summary judgment, which the Board granted. On judicial review, the circuit court affirmed the Board's decision. Schmidt appeals, arguing Moeller's nominating papers were invalid because, during the same election cycle, she signed both her own statement of candidacy as a Democratic Party candidate and the nominating petition of a Republican Party candidate in violation of section 8-8 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/8-8 (West 2014)). We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The undisputed facts demonstrate that, on September 5, 2015, Moeller signed petition sheets in support of her nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for the office of Representative for the 43rd District. On September 26, 2015, she signed a petition sheet for Sandy Wegman, a Republican Party candidate who sought nomination for the office of Kane County Recorder. On November 23, 2015, Moeller filed her own nomination papers with the Board to place her name on the March 15, 2016, primary election ballot as a candidate for the office of Representative for the 43rd District. Her papers included a signed statement of candidacy, notarized on November 19, 2015, in which she asserted that she was "a qualified primary voter of the Democratic Party."

         ¶ 4 On December 7, 2015, Schmidt filed a verified objector's petition with the Board, objecting to Moeller's nomination papers. She cited section 8-8 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/8-8 (West 2014)), which provides that "[a] 'qualified primary elector' of a party may not sign petitions for or be a candidate in the primary of more than one party." Schmidt argued Moeller violated that section by signing the nominating petition of a Republican Party candidate and running for office as a Democratic Party candidate. She asked that the Board declare Moeller's nominating papers and petition defective or invalid and bar Moeller's name from being printed on the March 15, 2016, primary election ballot.

         ¶ 5 On December 16, 2015, Moeller filed a motion for summary judgment. She agreed with Schmidt's assertion that "a person may not sign the petitions of more than one political party in any particular primary election." However, Moeller cited the First District's decision in Watkins v. Burke, 122 Ill.App.3d 499, 461 N.E.2d 625 (1984), for the proposition that "when a person signs for more than one political party at the same election, the first signature in time is valid and all subsequent signatures for a different political party are invalid." Moeller alleged she signed her own nominating petition and those of other Democratic Party candidates prior to signing a petition for Wegman, a Republican Party candidate. Thus, she maintained she affiliated herself with the Democratic Party prior to signing Wegman's petition and, as a result, her own nominating papers were valid.

         ¶ 6 On December 23, 2015, a hearing was conducted before the Board's hearing officer. On January 5, 2016, the hearing officer recommended that the Board grant Moeller's motion for summary judgment and overrule Schmidt's petition in its entirety. On January 7, 2016, the Board conducted a hearing in the matter. It granted Moeller's motion for summary judgment and overruled Schmidt's objection. The Board found as follows: "[Moeller's] Statement of Candidacy does not violate Section 8-8 of the Election Code because [Moeller] has not impermissibly signed a nominating petition for a candidate of one established political party and subsequently run as a candidate for another established political party in the same election cycle; rather, [Moeller's] first act of political affiliation was to align herself with the Democratic Party by signing her own petition. The act of signing a Republican candidate's petition after signing her own Democratic petition and before seeking nomination as a Democratic Party candidate rendered [Moeller's] signature on the Republican petition invalid but did not invalidate her petition."

         ¶ 7 On January 12, 2016, Schmidt filed a petition for judicial review of the Board's decision pursuant to section 10-10.1 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-10.1 (West 2014)). On February ...


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