CRETE | Nominating petitions for one of seven people wishing to run for seats on the Village Board in the April 9 municipal elections gave an incorrect home address, identified him as seeking office in Cook County instead of Will, and said he was running in a “village election” rather than a “consolidated election.”
Yet none of those flaws on the nominating petitions of Dean Gaffney were sufficient Friday to warrant his removal from the ballot, as the village’s Electoral Board voted without opposition to reject the challenge to his petitions.
The Electoral Board – consisting of Village President Michael Einhorn, Village Clerk Deborah Bachert and senior-most Village Trustee Larry Johnston – heard arguments and debated for more than two hours earlier this week.
On Friday, the Electoral Board met for about 20 minutes – most of which was taken up by Einhorn reading a detailed report explaining why Gaffney should be permitted to remain among the seven candidates running for three spots on the Village Board.
Gaffney admitted his home address was incorrectly typed on some of the petitions. Officials also found that the notary public who made Gaffney’s petitions into official documents incorrectly filled in a blank space with “Cook” instead of “Will” County because that notary was from South Chicago Heights, which lies just north of the Cook-Will County line.
The report Einhorn read from called these “careless mistakes” that did not show any deliberate attempt to confuse people as to which office Gaffney was seeking.
Einhorn said his understanding of election law is that errors can be made without making nominating petitions ineligible.
“You can honestly not put your address on there, and it’s not a fatal flaw,” Einhorn said. “The key word here is ‘substantial compliance,'" which he said he and the other Electoral Board members believe Gaffney’s petitions were in line with.
“There is no apparent fraud here. There was no apparent attempt to confuse voters,” said Einhorn, who conceded the Crete Electoral Board's attitude differs from other municipalities where candidates are being removed from ballots for imprecise notarization of petitions.
“I’m not a lawyer,” Einhorn said. “I’m not Burt Odelson, the master of the Election Code." Odelson's law firm is being used by several south suburban municipalities and school districts to advise their electoral boards. “But I am hard-pressed to understand how they reached the conclusions they’re reaching,” Einhorn said.
Gaffney was not present for Friday’s hearing, although Johnston said his presence was not required.
“They were told they could be here, but it is up to them if they want to show up,” he said.