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State Board Rules Against Cunningham in the 11th

On Monday, the State Board of Elections ruled that Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham did not have enough valid signatures to remain on the ballot in the 11th Congressional District. A final court decision is expected this week.

The State Board of Elections on Monday ruled against Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham’s bid to remain on the ballot in the 11th Congressional District.

Cunningham is hoping to face off against Rep. Judy Biggert in the newly-drawn 11th, but he’s spent more time defending his candidacy than campaigning in the past few months. The State Board initially removed Cunningham from the ballot in January, citing the mistyped address of a petition circulator on 31 sheets of signatures.

Cunningham took that decision to court, and won – a circuit court judge reinstated him on the ballot in February. But Biggert’s campaign appealed that decision, and brought another charge: that two of Cunningham’s petition circulators were not present as required when their sheets of signatures were notarized.

Since the State Board had not ruled on those charges, the appellate court sent the matter back to them for a decision. Monday’s vote (which was 7-1, according to John Fogerty, attorney for the Biggert campaign) will be sent back to the appellate court, where a final decision regarding Cunningham’s candidacy will be made.

Fogerty said the State Board’s decision leaves Cunningham with only about 300 valid signatures – far shy of the 600 required to run in the 11th District. Cunningham initially submitted 1,256 signatures to the board.

The appellate court will also likely decide just how to deal with the fact that Cunningham’s name will still appear on the ballot for next Tuesday’s election, according to Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the state board.

“When a change is made this late, it typically does not allow for the physical removal of a name from ballots and machines,” Menzel said.

Should the appellate court uphold the State Board’s decision, signs could be placed at polling places informing voters of the situation, and votes cast for Cunningham – either during the March 20 election or during the early voting period – could be suppressed, Fogerty said.

Reached Monday afternoon, Cunningham said he is still encouraging people to vote for him, and determined to remain on the ballot, if possible. Should the appellate court rule against him, his next step could be to take his case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

“I am resolved in giving voters in the 11th District a choice,” he said.  

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