As anyone with any shred of common sense would’ve predicted, finally armed with the appropriate witnesses, Judge David Akemann finally put us all out of our longstanding Campton Hills misery. Well…Everyone, but the Kane County Clerk’s Office who now have to put on a primary election in just three short weeks.
But despite this courtroom closure, I continue to find myself baffled by the newspaper reports. While it’s certainly true that two write-in candidates triggered a primary in which they must now secure a certain percentage of votes to be placed on the April consolidated election ballot, what I really wanted to know is, was Campton Hills’ failure to turn in some of those nominating petitions the proximate cause of this impending primary?
In a kinda Back to the Future movie gestalt, all Judge Akemann did was restore everything to the way it should’ve been had those petitions been submitted before the deadline. In other words, Campton Hills’ malfeasance will only cost their taxpayers the candidates’ legal fees.
For the full history of this fracas, please avail yourself of Wednesday’s column.
Before we continue, please let me make it abundantly clear that the fact I’m about to defend Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham here – again – causes me all kinds of undue pain and stomach agita. But fair is fair and it’s not fair for the papers to continue to make it sound like the Clerk was fighting this electoral battle by choice.
Because he’s wasn’t!
No County Clerk in this vast nation of ours can pick and choose which election laws they want to follow. The statute is very clear. If Jesus Christ himself came down and told Mr. Cunningham to accept that late paperwork it wouldn’t have made any difference because, even though they often believe differently, this is the one case in which a judge truly is more powerful than God.
So I’m going to say it one more time! The only way a county clerk can accept tardy nominating petitions is by court order. Thus, when those Campton Hills Candidates sued to force the Clerk to accept their paperwork, he had no choice but to let the court sort it out.
Then, in yet another massive irony, when the plaintiff’s attorneys were informed of the $144,000 primary election cost, one of ‘em said the number was “highly, highly inflated.” Ain’t it funny how lawyers can apply the concept of inflation to everything but their own legal fees?
Trust me, $144,000 for a 12 precinct primary – which comes out to 12 grand per precinct – is fuckin’ dirt cheap. Because we’re talking ballots, absentee ballots, procuring polling places, a potential early voting requirement, temporary truck drivers with rental trucks, election judges, the phone bank required to support those election judges, security at any school polling places, not to mention the inordinate amount of County IT and Clerk staff time required to pull this kind of thing off under any conditions.
Judge Akemann did ask the Clerk to minimize the burden on taxpayers, but it can’t be done. There is no way getting around the fact that running any election is a very expensive and time consuming proposition. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it can be done for that small a sum.
This is why, every other year, the Clerk’s office goes through a secret ritual in which they sacrifice a virgin to the election gods in hopes that they won’t have to pay for another useless consolidated election primary in which nobody bleepin’ votes anyway.
So, to once again, sum it up:
Campton Hills’ failure to follow electoral law has been successfully redressed by the courts. As a result of two write-in candidates, there will be a Feb. 27 Campton Hills primary by which voters will determine who makes the April ballot. If they all get the appropriate percentage of votes, they all make it.
The Kane County Clerk did not force these candidates to go to court to set the record straight. The law did! And lastly, $144,000 for a twelve precinct primary election is not “inflated” in any way, shape or form.
So now that we’ve finally come to the end of our too-long tale, I’m wondering if it’s possible for the rest of the county to vote to dissolve the Village of Campton Hills. I’d be happy to lead the charge.