Court Holds Candidate Properly Lost Ballot Spot

     (CN) – A candidate for Congress properly lost his spot on the primary ballot because two of his petition circulators were not sworn in properly, an Illinois appeals court ruled.



     Kane County Clerk John A. “Jack” Cunningham wanted to run for Congress as a Republican from Illinois’ 11th Congressional District, challenging Rep. Judy Biggert.
     However, the state electoral board invalidated the signatures gathered by Charles Leslie, stating that he had listed an incorrect address on the petition sheets he circulated. This dropped Cunningham below the number of necessary signatures to appear on the ballot.
     Cunningham sought review of the board’s decision, and the Cook County Circuit Court reversed the decision and ordered that his name appear on the ballot, since the incorrect address was a typographical error.
     Henry Schaeflein and Edmund Brezinski, who filed the original objection, took the case to the court of appeals, arguing that Leslie and fellow circulator Lawrence Weed failed to swear their circulator affivadits before a notary.
     The Chicago-based First District Illinois Court of Appeals agreed, and Cunningham was knocked off the ballot again.
     “While notary public Lisa Hwang first testified that the circulators always appeared before her to swear their petitions, she admitted, only after both Weed and Leslie testified, that she had notarized petitions of circulators who did not personally appear before her if the circulator’s name or signature was familiar to her,” Justice Epstein wrote, adding that their petitions must be declared invalid.
     “This court has recognized that where the sheets of a nominating petition submitted by a circulator evidence a pattern of fraud, false swearing and total disregard for the requirements of the Election Code, the sheets circulated by that individual should be stricken in their entirety,” he added.In addition, Epstein directed that a copy of the court’s opinion should be sent to the Illinois Secretary of State for “appropriate action regarding Hwang’s commission as a notary public.”

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