Elections

Barnard files motion in appellate court in last-ditch effort to allow late voting

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 21, 2016 4:40 pm

Updated Information:

The 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield has denied Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard's request to remove an order for stay that halted late voting.

In a brief email statement, Barnard said he will not pursue the case further, as it would take the process beyond the March 29 date in which election results must be certified.

Original story:

QUINCY — Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard filed a response late Monday afternoon to a stay ordered by the 4th District Appellate Court to stop extended voting this week, after numerous voters did not vote because of ballot shortages during last week's primary election because of the lack of ballots.

The appellate court approved the stay late Friday at the request of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who sought the appeal, after Adams County Circuit Judge Chet Vahle refused to reverse an injunction he had ordered on Thursday that would allow late voting this week.

A ruling is expected as early as Tuesday.

Barnard said if the appellate court doesn't reverse its stay, he doesn't expect to appeal it to the Illinois Supreme Court because the Adams County clerk's office must certify its results by March 29.

“By the time you can mount a similar challenge in the Illinois Supreme Court, you will have lost critical time,” Barnard said. “Not only are days critical here, hours are critical if we are to certify that vote on March 29.”

The attorney general's office argued the Illinois Constitution and the state election code sets how and when elections are conducted, and that the mandatory ruling ordered by Vahle created a class of voters that received an extra week to cast a ballot.

Barnard had argued that the injunction afforded the right to extended voting to those that were on unequal footing.

“This focus ought to be on the voters that didn't get to vote,” he said. “The guardian of the process, which is the government, is the very entity that took their right to vote away from them, and it seems to me that we ought to be focusing on what we can do to restore the right of the voter.”

A voter would have only been able to cast a ballot if there was an electronic record of them signing in at their precinct but not receiving a ballot, or by singing an affidavit swearing under oath under the penalty of perjury that they attempted to vote but were unable to do so because of the lack of ballots.

Adams County Clerk Chuck Venvertloh said if the court allows for late voting, his office is ready to go with ballots and has 15,000 sheets of ballot stock available.

Meanwhile, about half of the 1,162 uncounted ballots from the election were counted by hand. The photocopied ballots are unable to be processed by tabulating machines. Of those ballots, a vast majority were Republican ballots. Only 53 were for Democrats.

“Two judges are reading them off, and two judges (one from each party) are marking the count,” Venvertloh said.

He hope election judges will be finished Tuesday, with results being posted on Wednesday.