Ela Township electoral board dismisses ballot objection
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:16PM
LAKE ZURICH — Despite allegations brought forth by the Ela Tax Reform Party, the candidates running on the Ela First Party slate will remain on the ballot for April’s consolidated elections.
Both slates, which are competing for seven seats on the Ela Township Board, endured a two-day hearing process Jan. 14 and 16 to consider the Tax Reform Party’s objection to a number of signatures on Ela First’s nominating petitions.
Despite the protest, the April 9 ballot will still offer voters choices among seven incumbents, the eight-person Tax Reform Party, and one independent candidate
The objection, however, alleged that a number of the signatures on Ela First’s nominating petitions did not match those on file with the Lake County Clerk, and that many were duplicates or from non-registered voters.
Last week, Ela Township’s Electoral Board members decided that they didn’t see a pattern of fraud necessary to remove Ela First candidates from the ballot.
“We feel that the board was correct in its decision, and we are going to run a clean campaign,” said Ela First incumbent Nancy Thompson.
Tax Reform Party candidate Nancy Shepherdson, however, said she was surprised that the board didn’t deliberate more on the matter.
“We respect the decision of the board, but we don’t think that they took into account all of the points we raised ... we raised valid issues and expected them to deliberate more,” Shepherdson said.
Matt Flamm, the Ela Tax Reform Party’s attorney, suggested during the hearing that the electoral board “strike the petition and strike the members of the Ela First Party from the ballot” for what he explained was election fraud.
In his closing statements, Flamm referred to testimony given by Ela First incumbent Larry Bowman; he said that although Bowman claimed he gathered signatures at a large gathering, he testified that he did not actually watch them sign their names. Flamm added that some of the people whose signatures were on the petitions claimed that they never signed the petitions.
Flamm said his clients also allege that Ela First removed a number of pages from its signed petitions before allowing the Tax Reform Party to look through them. The objection also alleges that Township Clerk Bill Donnan took longer than was necessary to make copies of the petitions for the Tax Reform Party to view.
“The Township Clerk, Mr. Donnan, who is also a candidate, chose to invoke the Freedom of Information Act, and chose to take the absolute maximum amount of time allowed if, in fact, this matter were governed by the Freedom of Information Act,” said Flamm, maintaining that election law governs the viewing of petitions.
Ela First’s attorney Brian Winter responded by saying that the point was a non-issue. He said Donnan likely would have had copies of the petitions to the Tax Reform Party sooner if that slate’s members had said they needed them faster than the FOIA time frame.
Addressing Flamm’s other allegations, Winter said no pages of the petitions were removed, and that testimony from the Tax Reform Party made it evident that the opposing slate likely misread the number on the last page.
The electoral board ultimately decided that a number of signatures should be removed, but Winter explained that the 539 signatures left on the party’s petitions were more than the minimum of 432 required to remain on the ballot.
Winter also said there is no evidence “that there was a pattern of fraud in this case.”
“No one was guilty of that,” Winter said.
The electoral board also noted that it had not seen any pattern of fraud in the candidates’ history.
Ela Township’s Electoral Board consisted of chairman Eric Stubenvoll, an attorney from Deer Park; outgoing Ela Township Trustee Anne Dobbertin; and Joseph Menges, an attorney from North Barrington.
The Ela Tax Reform Party slate includes Barbara Evans of Deer Park for supervisor; Wayne Wnek of Hawthorn Woods for assessor; Randy Abbott of Lake Zurich for highway commissioner; Paul Jankowski of Lake Zurich for clerk; Vaseem Iftekhar of Hawthorn Woods; Mike Jennings of Skokie; Nancy Shepherdson of Deer Park; and Nick Buris of Deer Park.
The Ela First Party consists of Lucy Prouty for supervisor; Donnan for clerk; John Barrington for assessor; Kruckenberg for highway commissioner; Nancy Thompson; Larry Bowman; Jack Reck; and newcomer Lynn O’Brien.