Time running out on Dem bill intended to thwart ballot decision review

Steve Korris Sep. 9, 2011, 1:33am


SPRINGFIELD – St. Clair County Democrats tried to pass a law thwarting Supreme Court review of their decision to remove a Republican from the ballot last November.

A bill that would have rendered claims of candidate Whitney Wisnasky-Bettorf moot cleared the Senate in April but languished in the House rules committee as of Sept. 8.

Sen. James Clayborne of Belleville sponsored the bill, which would protect electoral board members Bob Delaney, Robert Haida and Charles Suarez.

Time has nearly run out, for the Justices plan to hear oral arguments on Sept. 20.

The case appears moot on the surface, because the election has come and gone.

The Supreme Court doesn't consider it moot, however, because Wisnasky-Bettorf seeks a decision in the public interest.

Her party's central committee nominated her for board of review in March 2010, after a general primary election with no Republican on the ballot.

Seven days later, the committee filed a nomination certificate with the county clerk.

County resident Peggy Pierce filed an objection with the electoral board, claiming the committee missed a three day deadline.

Wisnasky-Bettorf answered that as a result of new changes in election law, the deadline didn't apply to her nomination.

The electoral board voted to remove her from the ballot, and Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson affirmed the decision.

Fifth District Justices James Wexstten and Bruce Stewart affirmed Gleeson last August, with Justice Stephen Spomer dissenting.

The Fifth District denied rehearing in September, and Wisnasky-Bettorf successfully petitioned for Supreme Court review.

In April, the Senate passed Clayborne's bill without amendment or opposition.

Robert Sprague of Belleville, representing the electoral board, then wrote to the Justices that they would have to dismiss the case if legislators enacted the bill.

Brian Funk of O'Fallon, representing Wisnasky-Bettorf, wrote to the Justices in June that legislators adjourned without enacting it.

He wrote that the electoral board applied to general primaries a provision of election law that applies to consolidated primaries.

He wrote that their theory would create "a free for all where all of the requirements set forth in the statute are applied to all of the different types of vacancies in nomination, regardless of express language."

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