CHICAGO – Republican voters in the 56th Senate district can mark their ballots for Hal Patton in the March 20 primary, but those ballots won’t do him any good.
First District appellate judges disqualified him on March 12, too late to remove him from the ballot.
They remanded the matter to Cook County Circuit Judge Alfred Paul, “for the purpose of crafting a remedy to invalidate any votes cast for Patton.”
The Illinois Supreme Court denied review of the decision on March 13.
Patton sought the seat of retiring Sen. Bill Haine.
He would have run unopposed in Tuesday’s primary, except for a mistake made in signing a nominating petition of a Democrat candidate.
On Oct. 3, he signed papers for Katie Stuart, a Democrat seeking a second term as state representative.
On Dec. 1, he signed a statement of his own candidacy.
On Dec. 11, Charles Yancey objected to Patton’s candidacy under a provision of election code that prohibits party switching in a primary cycle.
The State Board of Elections couldn’t reach a decision, so Patton gained a spot on the ballot.
On Jan. 30, Judge Paul granted Yancey’s objection.
On Jan. 31, Patton petitioned the First District for review.
On Feb. 6, he petitioned the Supreme Court to take a direct appeal.
On Feb. 7, the First District ruled that it lacked jurisdiction.
On Feb. 8, the Supreme Court directed the First District to stay Paul’s judgment, grant an appeal, and expedite its consideration.
On March 1, First District judges ruled that they lacked jurisdiction because Paul hadn’t signed a final order.
Patton asked Paul for a final order on March 2, and Paul granted it.
Patton returned to the First District, arguing that the ban on party switching violates rights of free speech and assembly in the national and state constitutions.
First District judges reviewed the election board’s documents and kicked Patton out.
“Because Patton first signed the petition of a Democratic candidate, he cannot then run as a Republican candidate in the same primary election cycle,” wrote Justice Shelvin Hall.
Hall wrote that when a person violates this restriction, “the initial signature is valid and all subsequent signatures are invalid.”
He wrote that a General Assembly member must be a citizen, 21 years of age, and a resident of his or her district for two years.
He wrote that election code provides only that a voter may not sign petitions for or be a candidate in the primary of more than one party.
“A plain reading of the provision establishes that it has nothing to do with the qualifications to serve in office, but merely imposes restrictions on seeking election to office,” he wrote.
“Election laws invariably impose some burden upon individual voters.”
He wrote that the provision guards against party raiding, “a process in which dedicated members of one party formally switch to another party to alter the outcome of that party’s primary.”
Justices Mathias Delort and Mary Anne Mason concurred.
Madison County GOP chairman Jeremy Plank encouraged Republican voters to cast ballots for Patton regardless of the latest court decision, indicating that legal challenges may still be available.
In the meantime, Carrie Patton, Hal’s wife, filed election paperwork to be considered as a write-in candidate. She would need at least 1,000 signatures for her name to be placed on the November general election ballot.