Hearings by the McHenry County Officers Electoral Board were held on four challenges to Republican Precinct Committeeman petitions on Tuesday.
In Dunham Township, the two candidates challenged each other’s petition legitimacy.
The first was a challenge to incumbent Melissa Denker’s candidacy. (Besides being Dunham Township’s elected Precinct Committeeman, Denker is President of the McHenry County Young Republicans.)
She filed ten signatures, the minimum needed to obtain a ballot petition.
Her opponent, William Parker, contended that she had only nine legitimate signatures. One was from a person she testified she knew on Route 23, but he was not registered in Dunham Township when he signed Denker’s petition, argued Parker’s attorney Robert Hanlon.
The person in question was registered by Denker after her petition was turned in. Rebecca Lee of the law firm of Gummerson Rauch Lee Wombacher LCC argued that was adequate.
The three members of the Election Board, McHenry County Clerk Kathie Schultz, Circuit Clerk Katherine Keefe and First Assistant State’s Attorney did not agree and voted to remove Denker from the ballot because ten valid signatures were required to gain ballot access.
After consultation between Lee and Hanlon, Denkder withdrew her objection to Parker’s petition. Apparently, they had received only one page of signatures, instead of the two filed by Parker. When the two pages were examined, it was clear that there were more than ten valid signatures.
The other contested case was filed by Bonnie Duresa against the candidacy Jenna Wing.
The complaint, presented by attorney Laura Jacksack, contended that Wing was not a registered voter when she signed her Statement of Candidacy toward the end of November.
Wing’s attorney, Robert Hanlon, presented a certified copy of her November 3rd voter registration form and contended that was evidence enough that she met that qualification for Precinct Committeeman.
Jacksack argued that since the registration card was not submitted to the County Clerk’s Office until the day the petition for Precinct Committeeman was filed, that when she signed her Statement of Candidacy, she was not then a registered voter.
Jacksack presented three Illinois Supreme Court decisions in defense of her argument.
Instead of recessing for a day or so, the three Board members recessed to read the three opinions.
When the Board came back into session, reported his reading of the three opinions were not on point with the petition challenge.
The first case had to do with a judicial candidate who did not live in the subdistrict where he filed for office, but said he would move into the district. Vinton pointed out that Wing lived in the Fox River Grove precinct. He also found language in the document that said the Statement of Candidacy should “substantially comply” with requirements.
The second opinion dealt with whether a township assessor had accurately signed a statement saying, “I am eligible to take that office.” State law says an assessor has to be a township resident for a year. Vinton concluded there was not a similar time frame in the challenge being considered.
In the third opinion, a municipal aspirant’s candidacy was challenged because he owed money to his village. After appeals, he was kept on the ballot.
All three, Jacksack argued backed up her argument that the Statement of Candidacy had to reflect accurately the “present” situation.
Vinton pointed to the evidence of the November 3rd voter registration form executed by a Deputy Registrar.
“I think there is a difference in registering with a Deputy Registrar than with motor vehicles,” he said.
“There’s nothing that says if a registrar fails to [turn in the paperwork in a timely fashion] that the candidate is then punished for that.”
Jacksack had pointed out that after a Deputy Registrar registers someone, it has to be mailed within two days or deliver in person in seven days.
Schultz found none of the cases addressed voter registration.
“This registration was taken by a Deputy Registrar,” she explained. “That means when the Deputy completes the form, one is registered.”
She contrasted that with the process where one applies to be registers at the Secretary of State’s Office or mails in an application. In those cases, the person would not be registered until the person’s identification was checked out by the Clerk’s Office.
Schultz pointed out that one can vote on Election Day whether or not one’s name is on the election rolls, if one has the duplicate copy of one’s registration card. (This is provided to newly-registered voters by Deputy Voter Registrars.)
Keefe agree with the reasoning. She quoted language from one of the opinions which said that an individual’s right to run for office should not be “lightly denied.”
Schultz added that had the registration been by way of application, she “might have gone the other way.”
Wing will face off against Richard Duresa in Algonquin Township Precinct 45.
Robert Hanlon provided legal representation in three of the cases, all of which he won. Rebecca Lee faced off against him on the two Dunham Township cases and Laura Jacksack on the Algonquin Township case. Jacksack said she would consider filing an appeal.
In the fourth challenge appointed Precinct Committeeman Erik Sivetsen represented himself in his challenge to remove John Doles from the ballot.
Sivertsen succeeded in providing that Doles did not live in the precinct.