An Illinois Appellate Court recently found candidates
substantially complied with the Election Code against a challenge to the language on the circulator’s certification. Gallagher v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board.

Candidates for the office of
Appellate Court Judge filed nomination papers to be included on the March
2024 primary election ballot. The nomination papers included affidavits
certifying their petitions were signed during the required statutory
period. Objectors claimed the candidates’ affidavits did not comply with the
Election Code (Code) because the date range deviated from the Code’s required language,and the candidates should not be on the ballot.

The affidavits contained
statements that all signatures were provided during the period of “September
5, 2023 to December 4, 2023.” The Code requires that nomination petitions included a circulator’s certification that the nomination papers were signed no more
than 90 days before papers were due to be filed. The objectors argued that the affidavit language did not match the statutorily prescribed language.

The Electoral Board ruled in favor of the objectors and ordered the candidates’ names to be removed from the
ballot, finding that strict compliance with the prescribed language of
the Code was required. The candidates appealed, and the circuit court
found the affidavits to be in substantial compliance and ordered the names
to appear on the ballot.

On appeal, the Appellate Court agreed with the circuit court and held that the affidavits complied with the Code as this provision of the statute only
required a showing of substantial compliance. The Court reasoned that since the affidavits contained an affirmative
statement that complied with the purpose of the Code, the candidates were found
to be in substantial compliance and the Court ordered their names to
appear on the ballot.

Post Authored by Alexis Carter & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink