Judge rules voters must be notified of misleading ballot information

Chris Rizo Oct. 3, 2008, 11:29pm

CHICAGO - Illinois voters must be notified at the polls on Nov. 4 that there is misleading language on the ballot, a judge has ruled.

Cook County Circuit Judge Nathaniel Howse Jr. on Friday ordered election officials to print notices directing voters to disregard some information on the ballot that deals with a ballot question on whether Illinois should hold a constitutional convention.

Although Howse is a Cook County judge, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has said his decision is binding statewide.

Madison County Clerk Mark Von Nida said it will be an "inconvenience" to hand out notices to voters. He also said the situation will be difficult to explain to voters.

"We'll just deal with it," he said.

The controversy arose after ballots were certified with inaccurate language stating that not voting on the referendum amounts to a "no" vote.

Ballots also say the last constitutional convention referendum, which was held in 1988, failed. Howse ruled that inclusion of that information was inappropriate.

The Illinois Constitution requires voters to consider the convention question every 20 years.

St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney has said it would be a "disaster" to reprint and resend revised ballots. He said the cost would be "astronomical" in terms of printing and overtime pay for workers.

Von Nida said it's "par for the course" to have to deal with a ballot challenge.

"I've been doing this a long time," he said. "You can't get too upset, it's going to happen."

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Edwardsville, IL 62025

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