The First District Appellate Court has rejected a ballot access appeal brought by Edwardsville mayor Hal Patton, whose candidacy for state Senate has been derailed.
In the March 8 order, a three-judge panel said that any votes already cast for Patton in early and absentee voting should be invalidated.
The panel affirmed a Cook County judge's ruling in favor of objector Charles Yancey who argued that Patton's Republican nomination papers should be declared invalid because he signed a Democratic office holder's paperwork before signing his own, in violation of state election law.
Yancey, a Democrat from Bethalto, objected in December to Patton's eligibility to run in the GOP primary for the 56th District seat because Patton first signed petition paperwork of state Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville) on Oct. 3 before signing his own paperwork on Dec. 1.
Election law states that a qualified primary elector of a party may not sign petitions for or be a candidate in the primary of more than one party.
"Because Patton first signed the petition of a Democratic candidate, he cannot then run as a Republican candidate in the same primary election cycle," the appellate order states.
On appeal, Patton had argued in part that pertinent election code (Section 8-8) violated his rights under the First Amendment.
The appellate court rejected the argument, saying that election laws "invariably impose some burden upon individual voters," but to "subject every voting regulation to strict scrutiny and to require that the regulation be narrowly tailored to advance a compelling state interest, would tie the hands of States seeking to assure that elections are operated equitably and efficiently."
It also acknowledged an earlier decision by the Illinois State Board of Elections that allowed Patton's name to remain on the ballot while he and Yancey battled in circuit court.
"We take judicial notice that although Patton is unopposed, early voting and absentee voting has begun," the order states. "As a result, we remand to the circuit court for the purpose of crafting a remedy to invalidate any votes cast for Patton."
Patton could not be immediately reached for comment, but according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he intends to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
He has been Edwardsville mayor since 2013, and also operates Patton Dental in Edwardsville.
If the Supreme Court were to allow Patton to remain on the ballot, he would face Democrat Rachelle Aud Crowe, assistant Madison County state's attorney, in the general election.
In the meantime, Carrie Patton, wife of Hal, has filed paperwork in Madison County to run as a write-in candidate for the March 20 primary. Potential candidates had until Jan. 19 to file with county clerks as write-ins, and must earn at least 1,000 votes in the primary to be eligible to appear on the general election ballot.
Carrie Patton could not be reached for comment.
The 56th Senate District has been held by Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) since 2002. The long-time officer holder is battling illness and announced last year that he would not seek re-election.