Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012, 11:22 pm
Rock Island County will not count Reyes' votes
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By Eric Timmons firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent candidate for congress Eric Reyes says he's the victim of a political effort to stop his votes from being counted in Rock Island County.
Mr. Reyes is running as a write-in candidate in the 17th Congressional District. County clerks in 12 of 14 counties in the district will count his votes, he said.
Ballots in Jo Daviess County were printed without a write-in line before he submitted his letter of intent to that county.In Rock Island County, election judges are being directed not to count votes for Mr. Reyes.
"I just don't understand why Eric (Reyes) continues to beat this horse," said Rock Island County Chief Deputy Clerk John Brown. "The bottom line is, we won't count his votes unless he gets a court order."
Other counties have assessed Mr. Reyes' candidacy and decided they will count his votes.
Republican county clerks in Warren, Knox and Stephenson counties and Democratic county clerks in Mercer and Henry counties all said during a spot check they would count write-in votes for Mr. Reyes, based either on advice from their state's attorneys or from their own assessment of his candidacy.
In Rock Island County, Mr. Brown said he was following the law. The Rock Island County State's Attorney's office declined to comment, saying any advice given to the clerk on the matter would be subject to a confidential attorney-client relationship.
The controversy centers around a requirement that candidates have until 61 days prior to the election to file an intent to run as a write-in. Mr. Reyes missed that deadline.
His candidacy was successfully challenged before the Illinois State Board of Elections in July when he failed to collect the 5,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot. The Democrat and Republican candidates were only required to collect 600 signatures.
Mr. Reyes appealed the state board of election's decision to an appellate court in Sangamon County, arguing the barriers put before independent candidates were unconstitutional. He lost the appeal in September.
By that stage, the 61-day deadline had passed. But Illinois statutes say that if an objection to a candidate's nominating papers or petitions are sustained after the 61st day before the elections, the candidate has until 7 days before election day to file an intent to run as a write-in.
Jim Tenuto, a spokesman with the Illinois State Board of Elections, said he interpreted the statute as referring to a challenge before the state board of elections sustained after the 61 day deadline and not an appeal before the courts.
In that case, Mr. Reyes needed to file his write-in papers after the state board of elections kicked him off the ballot in July.
Mr. Reyes, who works as an attorney, interprets the law differently, and said that he should have been allowed to file after the 61-day deadline as his candidacy was under judicial review at that time.
Although the state board of elections views the law differently, it is not taking a position on the matter, Mr. Tenuto said, leaving county clerks to decide if they should count Mr. Reyes' votes.
Mr. Reyes believes Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney, a Democrat, does not want to count his votes for political reasons. She referred all questions about Mr. Reyes to Mr. Brown, who also is a Democrat.
Mr. Reyes initially ran in the 17th District as a Democrat but dropped out before the primary and announced plans to run as an independent.