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updated: 7/3/2014 6:15 PM

Madigan won't defend Lake County election commission

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  • Willard Helander

    Willard Helander


Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office will drop its defense of a controversial plan to take election-running powers from the Lake County clerk and create a new government commission instead.

A lower court had previously struck down part of a law that would create the new government, and Madigan's office appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court because the attorney general is responsible for defending state laws.

Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said Thursday the office would drop that appeal.

The commission created a local political scuffle in Lake County after being approved by lawmakers in 2013. It was seen as a political move targeting Republican Clerk Willard Helander.

Democratic State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, has denied the idea was his.

Its creation was tucked away in two paragraphs of a sweeping piece of statewide elections legislation.

"There is simply nothing unique to Lake County's population or geography that necessitates its singling out through a special law when a general law could be applicable," Kane County Judge David Akemann said in his decision last year.

County leaders worried about the added cost of a new commission, and when the appeal was still pending, whether it would disrupt how the election would run in November.

County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor praised the move to drop the appeal.

Other counties, like DuPage County, have election commissions but they're usually approved by voters, not installed by state lawmakers.

The Illinois House had voted to do away with the Lake County commission this year while the court case was still pending, but the Senate declined to follow suit.

Helander isn't running for re-election in 2014.

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