Friday, January 12, 2007

Election law just has to be exciting right now!!!

Yesterday a story broke that an Aldermanic hopeful may get kicked off the ballot thanks to a technicality. Many of you shouldn't be surprised, it seems the best way to kick people off the ballot in Chicago or indeed the state of Illinois is to go after their petition signatures. If you're running for something in the near future I suggest you find someone who knows the process and/or get you the services of a good lawyer.

Anyway back to the story from yesterday.

Chris Lawrence is seeking to challenge Ald. Mary Ann Smith in the 48th Ward. But his petitions were challenged, I'll tell you why in the quotes and I should also add that she has three other opponents and for the same reasons as Lawrence they may be dropped from the ballot. You know what this means?

In an election where there is an expectation of shakeups she will be the newest addition to the group of three incumbent Alderman who will run unopposed next month. Of course this is not set in stone. Who knows a judge might show some mercy and allow this minor infraction to slide. Of course it could be worse, you can be a convicted felon who has been banned from standing for election. (BTW, the list that I compiled on Wednesday has been updated courtesy of the Chicago Board of Elections, there are less names on there now than when I posted the list for the citywide offices up for election.)

Anyway check this out...

He studied the issues, raised campaign funds ($62,000 in "hard cash," he says), recruited volunteers, opened a campaign office on North Broadway and collected more than enough signatures on nominating petitions to get his name on the Feb. 27 ballot.
Lawrence, 35, even hired one of the state's best election lawyers, Andrew Raucci, to help him maneuver past the many pitfalls that can trip up an unwary candidate on the way to the ballot. But as Raucci put it Wednesday, Lawrence may have made his way through the barbed wire and land mines of war zones, but he couldn't keep from getting snared by the technicalities of Illinois election law.

Minutes later, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners hearing examiner Mario Correa confirmed to Lawrence that all his preparation will come to naught this year.

Correa will recommend that Lawrence be dropped from the ballot because he failed to file a receipt with election officials to prove that he had properly filed another document called a "Statement of Economic Interest" with the county clerk.

As a stunned Lawrence complained afterward that the scenario was "Kafkaesque" and the punishment draconian, Raucci had to remind him that "politics ain't bean bag."

What flabbergasted Lawrence was that he had actually met the requirement of filing the Statement of Economic Interest, sometimes referred to as an ethics disclosure because it requires candidates and officeholders to divulge information about where they make their money. But Lawrence admits he screwed up on the receipt.
Although Correa said he sympathized with Lawrence, he said Illinois case law was clear: no receipt means no candidacy. The election board is expected to concur.

Two other would-be Smith opponents made similar mistakes with their Statement of Economic Interest, and they also are likely to be removed from the ballot, said James Nally, a lawyer who filed all the legal challenges to Smith's opponents.

As a result, Smith will be unopposed for re-election -- unless a court decides to intervene.

This is from yesterday's Mark Brown column. It's a good read. This is just a pitfall of standing for election. If anything in the process of running for a political office is to be careful.

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