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Ballot troubles for Hardiman, Sanchez

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* There’s an interesting turn of events in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Tio Hardiman’s running mate may have some problems staying on the ballot. And that could raise some fresh, tough questions about Hardiman’s ballot access.

The State Board of Elections delayed a ruling yesterday and may decide next week. Kurt Erickson reports

At issue is whether the political newcomer’s running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Brunell Donald of Chicago, submitted petitions containing her correct address. […]

Donald acknowledged Thursday she recently moved but failed to change her voter registration.

“I was registered to vote at my old address, not my new one,” Donald told the Lee Enterprises Springfield Bureau Thursday.

For state election regulators, the case is potentially precedent setting because of a change in state law that now requires governors to pick their lieutenant governor candidates before the primary election.

If Donald is ruled ineligible for the ballot, there is no case law providing a roadmap for determining whether Hardiman would remain eligible to stay on the ballot against Quinn.

If they kick Donald off the ballot and not Hardiman, this thing will definitely wind up in the courts for quite a while.

* Meanwhile, Cook County Board candidate Al Sanchez is also having troubles. Tribune

A county election board hearing officer heard arguments Wednesday from an attorney representing Robert McKay, one of three Democrats running against Sanchez in the March 18 primary, as well as a lawyer for a resident of the South Side and south suburban district. The lawyers contended that Sanchez should not be allowed to run because he remains on supervised release following a prison term for rigging city hiring to benefit political foot soldiers under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

State law allows a convicted felon to serve on the County Board, but election lawyer Adam Lasker said Sanchez can’t legally put his name on the ballot until he’s finished serving his parole. Lasker noted that Sanchez had to sign a statement of candidacy swearing that he is eligible to vote. Since Sanchez can’t vote until he’s finished his federal sentence, he’s not eligible to run, Lasker contended.

“He’s not eligible to be a qualified elector, he’s not eligible to hold the office. And he had to be when he swore on his statement of candidacy form, on that date, when he swore ‘I am a qualified elector, I am qualified to hold the office,’” Lasker said. “Those are false swearings. Because at that time he was not qualified.”

Sanchez lawyer Dan Johnson countered that what matters is that Sanchez was free from prison when he officially became a candidate last month. And Johnson said Sanchez will petition to have his supervised release terminated in July, well before he would take office if he won.

He’s still listed as “challenged” on the county’s website.

* The Sun-Times editorializes

By law, municipal offices are off-limits to convicted felons. So are school boards ­— last year a Cook County judge booted the Thornton High School District 205 board president because he had a felony record. But under the state Election Code, a felony on the resume doesn’t appear to bar a felon from running for the County Board, so the board is the first place felons look when they decide to run for political office. The Legislature should put a stop to this by amending the Election Code to extend the municipal ban to other elected offices.

We’re sympathetic to people who want to rebuild their lives and careers after serving time. They’ve paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance. But not in elected office. There are plenty of other careers they can pursue. Putting felons in charge at any governmental level sends a miserable message. […]

Let’s update the state’s Election Code to close the County Board loophole. Let’s make it clear we’re all for ex-offenders rebuilding their lives, but they have no place holding public office.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - the Cardinal - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:02 am:

    Agreed Rich Why should County Board electeds be exempt from not being Felons? Follow the money when that was enacted 40 years ago. I wonder who’s name pops up?

  2. - Mighty M. Mouse - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Tio is toast.

  3. - glaber - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:23 am:

    I would think that someone who hopes to be Lt. Governor would not overlook updating her voter’s registration status after moving. Of course, there are a lot of things to attend to at such a time. This registration oversight, though, is very awkward.

  4. - Tom - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:28 am:

    If he is on supervised release he can’t register to vote, therefore he isn’t a qualified elector and the statement of candidacy is false. It comes down to the type of release he got.

  5. - Just Observing - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    I don’t think we need any laws prohibiting felons from holding elected office. Why can’t voters decide for themselves if they want a felon to represent them?

  6. - anon - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:36 am:

    What a shame. If Tio is removed from the ballot because of his LG’s address issue, Ricky Hendon’s theatrics at the state board of elections will be wasted. Thats too bad. He was really on that day!

  7. - Conservative Republican - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    No felons. The Sun Times put it aptly.

  8. - Mongo - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Unfortunately the felon won’t always tell the voters she is a felon. A prohibition on service should be enacted for all elected positions. MWRD, park district, village, county board, school district, township, library district…get ‘em all!

  9. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:52 am:

    “We’re sympathetic to people who want to rebuild their lives and careers after serving time. They’ve paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance. But not in elected office. There are plenty of other careers they can pursue. Putting felons in charge at any governmental level sends a miserable message. […]

    Let’s update the state’s Election Code to close the County Board loophole. Let’s make it clear we’re all for ex-offenders rebuilding their lives, but they have no place holding public office.”

    IMO, very poor logic by the Sun-Times. More typical of what I would expect to see come out of the Tribune.

    As much as I dislike somebody like Al Sanchez, it’s worse to just arbitrarily disqualify people forever from elected office. Hey, you want to get rid of somebody forever from the political scene? - Just go after them on a felony charge, and if they get convicted, they’re gone forever.

    Say, something like ‘inadvertently’ carrying a properly licensed firearm into an airport (say, like State Senator Donne Trotter) or a Courthouse. Instead of any chance of a plea bargain, it’s off to court to push for a felony conviction.

    What you are basically going to end up doing is putting targets on politicians of both parties, trying to ensnare then into criminal court cases where there is the possibility of a felony conviction. Are we really sure we want to do this?

    This type of law can have consequences that can play out in a lot of different ways. Better think through the consequences, instead of just making a knee jerk reaction.

  10. - Just Observing - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    === Hey, you want to get rid of somebody forever from the political scene? - Just go after them on a felony charge, and if they get convicted, they’re gone forever. ===

    I’ve had similar thoughts.

  11. - Don't Worry, Be Happy - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    Wasn’t there a similar residency issue with Deb Mell a few years ago? My recollection is she had moved within the district, but hadn’t updated her voter registration. Her opponent challenged but she was allowed to stay on the ballot.

  12. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    I’m not sure how I feel about the whole felon thing. I understand it’s the law so I’m not commenting on whether the law should be followed or not. This is just my opinion in general. If they have served their time, paid their fines, etc., then I’m not sure why they need to be banned from public service so long as their crime wasn’t committed while serving.

  13. - dupage dan - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    JD, you claim that all a person has to do to get someone off a ballot or out of elected office is to “ensnare them into criminal cases…” Since convicted felons are barred from holding office in municipal elections - etc(read the list above) we should have seen cases where someone is ensnared in those arenas, right?

  14. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    DD, know of one case (personally) where somebody screwed up at 22-23 years old, straightened out & went into business, quite successful, and became a very positive influence in the community (extremely generous with time, money, support, etc.).

    Made a terrible error in judgment & got persuaded to run for City Council and all this stuff from over 20 years ago got splashed up.

    Well, the person ended up walking away, and worse, feeling like they were treated as damaged goods from a community they had grown to love and support. The relationship is different now, and not in a good way. Hopefully, some day it will change back.

    I’m just not sure that the price we might have to pay to keep the Al Sanchez types out of office isn’t higher than what we are ready to pay. I’m just don’t think the tradeoff is worth it.

  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    dupage dan: No one ensares people for school board. It’s not a very powerful post. Some county boards are different.

    While I agree certain felonies should be disqualified (having a sex offender on a school board) the idea that someone who is caught dealing drugs at age 19, but serves their time and becomes a successful individual is disqualified from the City Council at age 51 seems unfair.

  16. - Just Observing - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    === While I agree certain felonies should be disqualified (having a sex offender on a school board) the idea that someone who is caught dealing drugs at age 19, but serves their time and becomes a successful individual is disqualified from the City Council at age 51 seems unfair. ==

    Like this Trustee:

    If memory serves, I think he eventually resigned, was pardoned by the Gov., and won a subsequent election.

  17. - dupage dan - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    Since this stream is about Sanchez, could Anonymous opine as to his situation? Should a person who is convicted of a crime directly involving his behavior as streets and san commissioner be eligible to run for office? Comparing him to a person 30 years distant from an unrelated crime is not on point.

  18. - Nonplussed - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Laws that limit who can be on a ballot indirectly violate the constitutional protection of one person, one vote.

  19. - Anonish - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    Don’t Worry, I thought they went after Deb Mell on residency issues using her voter reg as evidence that she lived out of district. It’s a slightly different twist on the issue.
    Nonplussed, how?

  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    let’s let the state police decide, like we do with everything else.

  21. - MEP - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    I’m the Anonymous that posted about the hypothetical 19 year old. I forgot to put in my nickname. I was responding to the Sun Times editorial portion of the piece so I wasn’t off point but I should address Sanchez.. If you are convicted directly to a public office then you should be ineligible. Al Sanchez shouldn’t be able to hold office.

  22. - paddyrollingstone - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    Let them run. You can always vote against them. If the people want to elect someone with a felony in their background, that’s there perogative.

    James Michael Curley did it (twice, I believe)

    “But, by playing the ethnic card, Curley was able to turn his disgrace into an advantage. Claiming persecution at the hands of the Protestant power structure, he announced that even while incarcerated he would be a candidate in an upcoming citywide race for alderman (the equivalent of city councilor). A convicted criminal campaigning from jail for high office. The walls of Indignation swept over Beacon Hill like a March blizzard. But there was nothing that Curley’s opponents could do. With his supporters delivering speeches written by him in jail, Curley easily won his seat on the Board of Alderman, finishing third in a field of 26.”

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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