Before an election, some municipalities will supply a packet of information to prospective candidates indicating the number of signatures required by law to be placed on a ballot. However, can a prospective candidate rely on the number of required signatures provided by the municipality? The answer is… no!
A controversy arose out of the Village of Glendale Heights where the Village Clerk distributed candidate packets with the wrong information in them. The Clerk had reviewed the State Board of Elections Candidate’s Guide and apparently misinterpreted the filing requirements regarding the number of signatures for a petition. 10 ILCS 5/10-3 of the Illinois Election Code sets forth the calculations for the required number of signatures. In a recent Illinois Supreme Court Case, the Supreme Court held that “close is not good enough” when complying with certain Election Code provisions. Corbin v. Schroeder, 2021 IL 127052 (April 27, 2021). Rather than allowing “substantial compliance” instead of strict compliance with the statute, the Court held that it is the responsibility of the prospective candidate to ensure proper compliance with the state law. In particular, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the percentages set forth in section 10-3 of the Election Code may not be diluted by statements from a municipal election official which results in a candidate being placed on the ballot with fewer than the statutorily mandated number of signatures.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the potential candidate to comply with all legal requirements and the minimum statutory signature requirement was found mandatory and needed to be strictly followed. The takeaway is that local election officials must be very careful about candidate packets but candidates must be even more careful. Always have your attorney review the packet carefully before it is distributed.
Make sure to consult your Tressler attorney if you have questions or need assistance with election matters!