Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
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Burns sought to place on the March 2020 primary election ballot the proposal: “Shall the terms of office for those persons seeking nomination or election to, or who are holding the office of, Village President (Mayor) and Village trustee in the Village of Elk Grove Village, be limited such that, at the February 23, 2021 Consolidated Primary Election and all subsequent elections, no person shall be eligible to seek nomination or election to, or to hold, elected office in the Village of Elk Grove Village where that person has held the same elected office for two (2) or more consecutive, four (4) year terms?” An objector argued Municipal Code 3.1-10-17 provides that any term-limit referendum must be prospective only; a referendum can only consider terms in office served after the passage of the referendum to determine a candidate’s eligibility. Burns maintained that section 3.1-10-17 was unconstitutional, facially and as applied. The electoral board sustained the objection and ordered that the referendum not appear on the ballot. The circuit court reversed, finding section 3.1-10-17 unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the decision of the electoral board. Section 3.1-10-17 contains an express limitation on the power of a home rule unit to regulate matters involving term limits. The General Assembly has the authority to legislate in this area prospectively because it has expressly indicated its intent to do so; it may choose to “preempt the exercise of a municipality’s home rule powers by expressly limiting that authority.” View "Burns v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board of the Village of Elk Grove Village" on Justia Law

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Johnson filed a referendum petition seeking to place on the November 2016, general election ballot the question of imposing term limits on the elected office of Broadview village president. The Broadview electoral board invalidated the referendum as vague and ambiguous “because it is not clear whether the Referendum applies retroactively as well as prospectively.” The circuit court concluded the referendum was self-executing, not vague or ambiguous, and ordered the referendum to appear on the ballot. The appellate court affirmed. The proposition appeared on the ballot, but the results were not released, in compliance with an appellate court injunction. The Illinois Supreme Court ordered that the injunctive order be vacated and took judicial notice that the referendum was approved, then affirmed. While the proposition did not provide an express date marking the relevant timeframe for the prior terms of office, it is directed at that those “who seek election to or hold the office of Village President” beginning with the April 2017 election who have “been previously elected” to that office for two consecutive full terms. When read in its entirety, the language adequately explains that the initial starting point for determining whether candidates were “previously elected” village president is the April 2017 election. View "Johnson v. Ames" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Constitution of 1970 may be amended by constitutional convention; the General Assembly; or ballot initiatives, Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIV, sects. 1, 2, 3. Ballot initiatives may only be used for amendments directed at “structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV,” pertaining to Illinois’s legislative branch. The ballot initiative at issue addresses redistricting to redraw the legislative and representative districts following each federal decennial census. In May 2016, SIM filed with the Secretary of State a petition proposing the amendment of article IV, section 3, to replace the current system for redrawing Illinois’s legislative and representative districts. The General Assembly’s role would be eliminated from the process, with primary responsibility for drawing legislative and representative districts falling to a new “Independent Redistricting Commission” selected through a process involving limited legislative input. The State Board of Elections determined that the petition received more than the required number of valid signatures. Days after submission of the petition, a “taxpayer’s suit” was filed (735 ILCS 5/11-303), seeking to enjoin the disbursal of public funds to determine the petition’s compliance with the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/1-1. The circuit court found that the petition did not comply with requirements for inclusion on the ballot. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, citing “the plain language of article XIV, section 3.” View "Hooker v. Illinois State Board of Elections" on Justia Law