The Bar News

Quick Take on Illinois Supreme Court Opinion Issued Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys reviews the Illinois Supreme Court opinion handed down Wednesday, April 21. In Elam v. The Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of Riverdale, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of Riverdale invalidating a candidate’s eligibility to run for village trustee in the general election because of invalid signatures on his nominating petition.

Elam v. The Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of Riverdale, 2021 IL 127080

By Joanne R. Driscoll, Forde & O’Meara LLP

In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Overstreet, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of Riverdale invalidating a candidate’s eligibility to run for village trustee in the general election because of invalid signatures on his nominating petition.

The issue before the court was whether section 10-4 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/10-4 (West 2018)) prohibited the collection of signatures by circulators on behalf of a candidate for one political party in the consolidated primary election and then for an independent candidate for the consolidated general election. Resolving the split of authority on this issue in Sandefur v. Cunningham Township Officers Electoral Board, 2013 IL App (4th) 130127, and Wilson v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board, 2013 IL App (1st) 130957, the court held that Wilson correctly interpreted section 10-4 to bar such conduct.

Applying rules of construction, the Supreme Court construed the first clause of section 10-4 that “no person shall circulate or certify petitions for candidates of more than one political party, or for an independent candidate or candidates in addition to one political party, to be voted upon at the next primary or general election” as demonstrating a clear legislative intent that an individual cannot circulate petitions for more than one political party or for an independent candidate in the same election cycle. The court rejected Sandefur’s interpretation that this prohibition only applied to election “phases,” such as the primary election or the general election, because that would render the prohibition on circulating petitions for both an established party candidate and an independent candidate a nullity.  

Posted on April 22, 2021 by Rhys Saunders
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