- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State elections officials will consider conflicting recommendations later this week about the future of the Democratic ticket challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in March’s primary.

Though a State Board of Elections hearing officer and the board’s attorney both found Tuesday that Tio Hardiman had submitted enough petition signatures to qualify for the March 18 ballot, they reached differing conclusions about whether his lieutenant governor pick, Brunell Donald, had accurately depicted her status as a registered voter on nominating petitions.

It’s a sticky situation for election authorities in the first year that candidates for Illinois’ top two statewide positions will appear together on a ticket. The state’s top election authority believes Hardiman’s ticket will ultimately be decided in court - and not before the election.

“I plan to fight every step of the way,” said Hardiman, who’s from Chicago and is former director of the anti-violence nonprofit CeaseFire.

Hearing officer Barbara Goodman recommended Donald be removed from the ballot because she had moved and was not properly registered to vote in the last primary, which was spring 2012. But the board’s general counsel, Steve Sandvoss, found that Donald met the necessary criteria because federal law and state rules favoring transient voters would have allowed Donald to cast a ballot in that primary.

The board, which meets Thursday, could choose one recommendation over another or take its own course, executive director Rupert Borgsmiller said.

Its decision could have election authorities statewide scurrying, as Thursday is the day for ballot approval on the local level with printing to follow shortly after, Borgsmiller said. And ballots for members of the military and other overseas residents must be mailed by Feb. 1, 45 days before the election.

Objectors argued Brunel’s disqualification should bring down the ticket, but Goodman found - and Sandvoss did not object - that while the law provides for the filing of a joint petition to run, it doesn’t provide for joint disqualification.

Legislators changed the law to require both candidates to run together after the 2010 primary when Scott Lee Cohen won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Gubernatorial nominee Quinn rejected him because of allegations of domestic abuse that eventually forced Cohen to relinquish the nod.

But the new law has even presented murky scenarios such as the one facing the board. Several had been discussed by elections board staff members even before candidates began filing petitions, Borgsmiller said.

“All of these are questions that we just don’t have answers to,” Borgsmiller said. “Could a person just file for one? If one person is invalidated, does it invalidate both? … What appears to be something very simple to do is never as simple as it appears.”





Contact John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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