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McLean County elections board rejects challenges to remove 5 GOP County Board candidates from ballot

McLean County Officers Electoral Board
Eric Stock
McLean County McLean County First Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Spanos, left, sits with members of the McLean County Officers Electoral Board, left to right, Kathy Michael, Mary Koll and Don Everhart for Friday's hearing.

An elections board on Friday rejected objections to five Republican McLean County Board candidates who didn't number pages on their nominating petitions to run in the June 28 primary.

Annette Fellows is running in District 9 in south Bloomington. She apologized for the oversight and asked the board not to kick her name off the ballot.

PDF: Read the rulings

“I don’t feel like it would cause any voter confusion or potential voter fraud,” Fellows told the board during the second day of hearings. “To remove my name from the ballot would be an injustice to the people in District 9 who put their name on the petition that said, ‘I want her name on the (ballot) so I can vote for that candidate.’”

The board that included McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael, Circuit Clerk Don Everhart — both Republican officeholders — and Mary Koll, a member of the state's attorney's office, ruled the mistake doesn't impact the integrity of the election.

Hearings involving four other candidates were heard on Monday.

Fellows’ petitions were challenged by Jill Blair, a former Democratic Illinois House candidate. Blair said during the hearing she was confused by Fellows’ petitions when she reviewed them online. She indicated Fellows’ statement of economic interest was filed in the middle of the petitions.

Annette Fellows
Eric Stock
Annette Fellows

“I found that a little weird,” Blair said.

Koll, an assistant state's attorney, asked Blair whether she believed Fellows failing to number her nominating petitions posed a threat to a fair and honest election.

“Rules are rules, we have them in place for a reason,” Blair responded.

Fellows asked Blair during the hearing if she thought it would be fair to remove Fellows from the ballot while keeping Democrat Julie Hahn on the ballot. Blair helped collect signatures for Hahn to run in District 9 and also did not number her petitions.

“No one filed an objection to Julie’s petitions,” Blair replied.

Koll said during the board’s deliberations that failing to number pages is a common mistake in candidate filings and don't threaten a fair election as along as their paperwork is in "substantial compliance."

“It would have been preferable if all of these candidates had dotted all i’s and crossed all t’s and avoided any and all errors in their nominating papers. However, these candidates are human beings. They are not perfect,” Koll said.

Koll said case law is not clear when it comes to numbering pages, but she said only one error involving a limited number of pages is not a disqualifying offense.

The other candidates who faced challenges over their nominating petitions were County Board Chair John McIntyre (District 5, Normal), incumbent Catherine Metsker (District 1, northern McLean County), and newcomers Vicki Schultz (District 8, west Bloomington) and Hannah Blumenshine (District 5).

McLean County Republican Party Chair Connie Beard was the only public commenter who spoke during Friday’s hearing. She previously called the challenges a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“I’m hopeful we are now able to move forward to the business of being able to get good people elected and not have to worry too much more about details that we’ve now settled hopefully,” Beard said after the ruling.

All 20 McLean County Board seats are up for election this year, following once-a-decade redistricting.

Thirty-four candidates have filed for the board. One candidate who filed, Republican Gary Stevens in District 8, has since withdrawn his candidacy, said Michael.

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Corrected: April 1, 2022 at 6:16 PM CDT
This story has been updated to indicate Kathy Michael and Don Everhart are Republican officeholders and not Koll.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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