Yesterday, the County of Lake and Aaron Lawlor, Lake County Board Chairman, filed suit in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Lake County, just three days after Governor Quinn signed Public Act 98-115 (HB2418) into law. I did have the opportunity to obtain a copy of the filing, which is public record. The case number is 13 CH 2208.
The suit is entitled "County of Lake and Aaron Lawlor v. Chief Judge Fred Foreman, The Illinois State Board of Elections, Harold D. Byers, Betty J. Coffrin, Ernest L. Gowen, William M. McGuffage, Casandra B. Watson, Bryan A. Schneider, Charles W. Scholz and Jessie R. Smart.
The action challenges the constitutionality of the new law, which applies only to "[a]ny county with a population of more than 700,000 persons as of the 2010 federal decennial census that borders another state and borders no more than 2 other Illinois counties."
This language describes only one of the 102 counties of Illinois, and no other, now or anytime in the future: Lake County, Illinois.
This language, buried on page 87 of a massive election "reform" bill, imposes a county election board with 5 appointed commissioners, 2 each from the major parties. The appointments are to be made by the Chief Judge of Lake County.
In other counties where an election board exists, voters in those regions had the opportunity to vote for or against such a board through a referendum. Lake County is unique in that the board is imposed without voter input. In addition, only the board in Lake County is appointed by a Chief Judge, in all other areas where an election board exists, the local county boards appoint those commissioners. In addition, the other county boards allow for appointment of the local county clerk if he or she so desires, to serve as commissioner, in Lake County, all elected and recently elected officials, including the Lake County Clerk, Willard Helander, are prohibited from serving as commissioners. The law demands that Helander simply transfer all election materials, records and machinery to the newly formed election board.
The complaint cites Article IV, Section 13 of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 which states: "The General Assembly shall pass no special or local law when the general law is or can be made applicable. Whether a general law is or can be made applicable shall be a matter for judicial determination."
Injunctive relief is demanded to prevent irreparable harm from this legislative "singling out" of Lake County and also, one Willard Helander, Lake County Clerk, through this legislation, and a declaratory judgment is requested declaring that portion of the law unconstitutional.
In stunning irony, on the same day this suit was filed, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton filed suit against the Governor for his amendatory veto which singled out and wiped out the paychecks of legislators from the Illinois budget.
The matter upon filing was assigned to Judge Mitchell Hoffman. By administrator order entered on the same day of filing, a Civil Division Reassignment Order guarantees that a judge from outside of Lake County will be assigned to hear the matter, citing judicial conflict.
The clock is ticking. Petitions for candidacies will be circulated shortly and will need to be filed sometime somewhere towards the end of the year.