Dupage Policy Journal

Dupage Policy Journal

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Watchdog group: DuPage County flouted advance-notice law on ballot referenda

Local Government

By Carol Ostrow | Jan 1, 2017

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ECW questioned the overall authenticity of the DuPage County Election Commission’s dealings | Contributed image

DuPage County Board officials violated state Election Code laws involving Election Day referenda last fall and should be ousted, according to the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW).

This comes after DuPage County Election Commission Executive Director Robert Saar told the Daily Herald that there was a "one-10th of 1 percent chance" that November referendum results concerning tax hikes could end up being rendered invalid “because the public was informed about the proposals three days too early.”

Commission attorneys said they will ask a judge to decide on the matter — one month after the referendum concerning four jurisdictions comprising a park district, public library and two elementary school districts — because local newspapers informed the public three days too early, according to the law.

Either the commission could ask for corrective legislation or — their preferred path — request a declaratory judgment from DuPage County’s justice branch.

ECW said the DuPage County Election Commission failed to comply with advance-notice timing requirements because local newspapers published the ballot notifications 33 days before the November election. 

Illinois' Election Code stipulates that any referendum or “public question” must be submitted to voters no more than 30 days and no less than 10 days before an election date. ECW took issue with the time window as it pertained to hours of public access to polls.

“Are they seriously going to ask a judge to ignore the mandated notification criteria established by the legislature?” ECW said. “If a DuPage County judge were to ignore the notification requirements and allow these referendums to stand, then he too should be removed from office.”

Illinois’ Truth in Taxation Hearings statute spells out accountability — or lack of it — due to inaccurate reporting in Section 188-100, stating in part that a tax “shall not be invalidated for failure” if “attributable to the newspaper’s failure to reproduce the information in the notice accurately or to publish the notice as directed by the taxing district.”

“It's not a fatal error," Saar said. "It wasn't published late."

It was, nevertheless, published too early, and ECW said the Election Code lacks language to address it.

ECW said the circumstances “raise the hair on our backs as it is clear … certain public officials need to be removed from office for violating their oath of office.”

ECW also begged to differ with the premise that no harm was done, reminding the public that maximum and minimum dates are enforced for good reason: Actions speak louder than words, and the judicial branch has no business creating law.

Hence, ECW questioned the overall authenticity of the DuPage County Election Commission’s dealings. For example, efforts to locate documentation to support DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin’s assertions of capital savings were unsuccessful.

"(Cronin) claims his consolidation efforts have saved $100 million, yet to date, no one can produce the spreadsheet supporting such propaganda,” ECW said, adding this to its list of questionable actions.

“(The) Election Commission would not allow the opening or closing of the polls three days earlier or later,” an ECW spokesperson said, holding the commission up as an example of DuPage County's leadership failure. “Using their logic … no one is harmed, and we need to get as many people voting as we can. The truth of the matter is our society is harmed -- harmed by the lawlessness such an action creates. Laws matter!"

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DuPage County Election CommissionDuPage County BoardDuPage County

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