Urbana City Clerk Did Not Hold Ballot Placement Lottery In Violation of State Election Law **UPDATE: City Clerk Agrees To Hold Lottery
Sorry, I guess I could have picked a shorter title. The Prairie Green Party local here in Urbana, IL have three candidates for local office (which I am working on a little blog post on for later) and the Urbana city clerk did not hold a lottery (in violation of state election law) for candidate ballot placement and instead listed the Democrat first, Republican second, and Green third. The city clerk apparently got bad advise from a state election official. I think we all know that the first position on the ballot is favored slightly. The PR from the Prairie Green Party is below and the local newspaper did a piece on this. Hit “Read More” for the PR.
UPDATE: The Urbana city clerk finally relented and announced that a lottery to determine ballot positon will be held Wed April 1st, finally bringing the city of Urbana in line with the election law. Green Party and Republican caniddates for mayor Durl Kruse and Rex Bradfield earlier filed a civil suit to force the city to hold a lottery.
News-Gazette article on Green Party/Repubican Lawsuit
What got my goat was that when Durl Kruse, the Green, requested a meeting earlier last week with the Mayor with all stakeholders, the Mayor’s response was “NO, you’ll have to sue me”. Oy.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MARCH 24, 2009
PRAIRIE GREEN PARTY DENOUNCES ILLEGAL BALLOT PLACEMENT IN URBANA ELECTIONS
Press Officer, Prairie Greens
Candidate, Urbana City Council, Ward 7
URBANA, IL – The Prairie Green Party has denounced illegal ballot placement for the Urbana municipal elections. Phyllis Clark, Urbana City Clerk, did not conduct a lottery to choose ballot order for the April 7th consolidated general election, as required by state law. Greens are asking for ballots to be reprinted to repair the situation and bring the election in line with the law.
Illinois state law requires a lottery to determine ballot placement for established parties in general elections (10 ILCS 5/7-60). The Green, Democratic, and Republican parties are all established parties in Illinois and should have been included in a lottery, based on state law. Non-established parties and independents are placed on the ballot, after established parties, in the order they are certified.
Clark chose the ballot order for all candidates based on the order in which candidates submitted their petitions. The ballot order, from first to last, is Democratic Party, Republican Party, Green Party, and independents. This in direct violation of state law and would give an advantage to the Democratic Party candidates. Studies have shown a favorable impact for candidates listed first, including “Candidate Name Order Effects in Elections” by Jon A. Krosnick et al.
“We are calling for a legally conducted election,” said Durl Kruse, Green candidate for Urbana Mayor. “From the Florida presidential debacle in 2000 to the current situation in Urbana, Greens have been fighting for fair elections. Although this may have been a simple mistake, situations like this erode the public’s faith in our electoral system and need to be addressed.”
Mayor Laurel Prussing stated that the ballot placement violation was an honest mistake based on bad advice. Last year, Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting attempted to introduce a referendum on Instant Runoff Voting, but had their petitions challenged and thrown off the ballot. The group based their signature requirement on advice from the Champaign County Clerk Mark Sheldon, which turned out to be incorrect. Prussing and Clark were on the election board that threw the referendum off the ballot.
“In both situations, we have an honest mistake made on bad advice by an election authority. We should follow the law across the board, regardless of who benefits. Should the law vary for elected officials? I think not,” said Kruse.
The Prairie Green Party has called for this to be rectified, possibly by holding a lottery and printing ballots reflecting the new placement order. Republican mayoral candidate, Rex Bradfield, initially brought attention to this situation and has joined the Greens in calling for similar remedies. Although reprinting the ballots would bring an additional cost, the Greens said the cost would be worth having an election that does not violate state law.
“True democracy is priceless.” said Kruse.
Prairie Greens of East Central Illinois
Illinois Green Party