On January 28, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order putting a Republican candidate for the Illinois legislature back on the ballot. Cynthia Hebda is a Republican running for State House, 59th district, which includes part of Lake County and part of Cook County. Before she decided to run, she had signed the petition to place incumbent Carole Sente on the Democratic primary ballot. The fact that she signed a petition for someone in the Democratic primary was used in the lower courts to remove her from the Republican ballot.
Hebda said she signed for Sente because they are friends. A Cook County Circuit Court had then removed Hebda from the Republican ballot on January 7, and the State Court of Appeals then agreed with the lower court. But, the State Supreme Court has reversed the two lower courts.
The ballots had already been printed with Hebda’s name on the ballot, but notices at early voting polling places had said that Hebda is not eligible to be a candidate and that votes cast for her would not be counted. See this story. Thanks to Bill Van Allen for the link.
Illinois voter registration forms do not ask voters to choose a party. However, Illinois recognizes that voters are party members, depending on which party’s primary ballot they choose. A record is kept of which party’s primary ballot a voter chooses, and someone who chooses a Republican primary ballot is treated as a member of the Republican Party. Similarly, if a voter signs a petition to place a candidate on a party primary ballot, that voter is also treated as though he or she is a member of that party. So, when Hebda signed a primary petition for a Democrat, the law deemed her to be a Democrat, and thus ineligible to run in a Republican primary. Illinois and Ohio are the two states which don’t have registration by party on the voter registration, and yet which try to classify voters as party members depending on what actions they take. They results of the Illinois/Ohio system create many ambiguous legal problems. It will be fortunate if the Illinois Supreme Court, having issued injunctive relief to Hebda, will also write a decision clarifying Illinois law.