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updated: 11/30/2012 8:04 AM

Lawmakers change Christmas Eve election quirk

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  • Lawmakers gave local election officials a Christmas Eve break Thursday.

      Lawmakers gave local election officials a Christmas Eve break Thursday.
    File photo

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Local election officials likely won't have to wait around on Christmas Eve for candidates to file for office or pay out thousands of dollars in overtime costs because of a proposal awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature.

The Daily Herald reported this month that because of the local election calendar, the last day for candidates to file for offices like school board is set for Christmas Eve.

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But legislation approved by the Illinois Senate Thursday would push that final date back to Dec. 26.

The House already approved it, and Quinn's spokeswoman says he supports the plan.

Local offices then would be free to close or observe holiday hours on Christmas Eve.

"It helps us not inconvenience security and it won't mean any extra measures our facilities department would have to take for us to remain open," said Lake County Clerk Willard Helander. "Of course, our employees appreciate having the day off."

Helander will post notices on doors and public areas notifying potential candidates that the filing deadline has been extended.

If left unchecked, the scheduling conflict could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars statewide in overtime or holiday pay costs to keep open the 6,000-plus units of local government.

Elgin Area School District U-46 would normally be closed on Christmas Eve, but officials there would have to not only bring in staff for election-related needs, but custodial staff as well because of union contracts. Those extra costs could be avoided if Quinn signs the legislation. District spokesman Patrick Mogge said a determination regarding staffing will be made once the governor makes a decision on the bill.

The proposal was wrapped into a higher-profile effort to push up a special election date for the seat in Congress previously held by Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. The Senate approved it by a 53-0 vote Thursday and the House approved 114-0 Wednesday.

State Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and the proposal's sponsor, said lawmakers heard from lots of local officials complaining about the potential Christmas Eve workday.

Harmon said it was an easy fix to make, even though Christmas Eve isn't a state holiday.

"It's understandably not exactly a business day, either," he said.

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