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Early voting postponed as candidate nomination contested

Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Jacksonville Journal Courier
by Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree

Early voting, scheduled to start this week across the state, has been delayed after an objection to an attorney general candidate on the Democratic ballot was filed in the Cook County court system.

Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener said early voting scheduled to start Thursday will be postponed until a decision is made in the challenge against candidate Scott Drury, currently state representative for the 58th district, has been reached.

“We are in limbo until the decision is reached,” Waggener said. “We can’t have someone on the ballot if they are not a true candidate, but we can’t remove him unless the objection is accepted.”

A challenge was presented in January to the Illinois State Board of Elections regarding Drury’s statement of economic interests. The objector, Thomas Rottman Jr. of Chicago, claims Drury is not eligible to be on the ballot because he did not turn in the form by the December deadline.

Matt Dietrich, public information officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said the case is being heard in the First District Appellate Court, with a hearing scheduled for Friday.

“We are optimistic to have a decision this week,” Dietrich said.

In the court documents, Drury has argued that his statement of economic interest filed in April 2017 as a requirement as a state representative fulfills the ballot-related requirement because it is within the same government entity; Rottman and his attorney are arguing that the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch are separate government entities.

The case originally was discussed by the Board of Elections, which voted 5-3 to allow Drury to remain on the ballot.

A hearing officer for the elections board recommended that Drury be removed from the ballot, while the board’s general counsel recommended he be approved.

In Cook County, a judge declared Drury ineligible last week, but that ruling was overturned on appeal.

The case has moved to the appellate court after Rottman appealed to overturn the second judgment.

Dietrich said the case could go to the Illinois Supreme Court if a decision is not reached.

“If it continues to move up the Judicial Branch, we don’t know how much time it would add to the process,” Dietrich said.

Waggener said she is hopeful that a decision will be reached and voting will able to move forward next week.

Those who come in before the ballot is ready will be allowed to apply to vote by mail, Waggener said.

If the ballot is ready before Feb. 15, Waggener will put an update on the Morgan County website, she said.

“Hopefully by Friday we’ll know something,” she said.

Drury was not available for comment Tuesday.

Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1233, or on Twitter @JCNews_samantha.

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