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Article updated: 11/5/2013 1:59 PM

Lake County election commission proposal moves on

Scott Drury

Scott Drury

David McSweeney

David McSweeney

Aaron Lawlor

Aaron Lawlor

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A plan to nix a controversial Lake County election commission won unanimous support from an Illinois House committee today, preserving the idea while lawmakers wait for a court decision Friday.

Lake County lawmakers for months have pushed back against taking election duties away from Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, a move that was approved as a small part of a massive election law in May. Legislation to undo the Lake County election commission now goes to the full House.

"We won't have this needless board that will cost money," said state Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat.

It won't go further this week, though, as lawmakers wait and see what a local judge says about the idea Friday. The court previously temporarily blocked the law.

If the court strikes down the election commission, the county clerk will handle Lake County's elections as usual. If a judge upholds the law, Lake County leaders will have to work with the court to decide when it should be implemented, a tricky process given that candidates are already collecting petition signatures for the March 18 primary election.

"The quicker we do things, the more money it will cost," said Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor, who testified before lawmakers.

Lawlor said Drury and state Rep. David McSweeney could move forward with the legislation if a judge upholds the law but wouldn't need to if he strikes it down Friday.

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