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updated: 1/10/2018 7:12 PM

Judge: Referendum on Aurora election law can go on March ballot

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Residents of Aurora will decide March 20 whether county clerks will take over running their elections.

Kane County Judge David Akemann ruled Tuesday there were enough signatures on petitions to put a question on the ballot, and that the primary election was suitable for the vote.

Objectors Alex Arroyo and Gordon Leach had argued petitioners didn't collect enough good signatures. They needed signatures from 1,000 registered voters in the part of Aurora subject to the Aurora Election Commission.

Petition-passers collected more than 1,540 signatures. The objectors said only 974 were valid. They said more than 300 were invalid because they didn't match signatures on voter registrations; 39 were invalid because the names were printed, not written in cursive lettering; more than 130 signers were not registered voters; and 93 didn't count because they lived outside the jurisdiction.

Akemann ruled the printed names still count as signatures, which gave the petitioners enough valid signatures.

Objectors also argued the March primary election is not a "general" election, and the state's election law says a referendum can only be considered in a "general, state, county or municipal election." Akemann disagreed.

Although political parties will select nominees in the primary, voters can request a nonpartisan ballot if they only want to vote in the referendum.

He did agree with the objectors that the question to be printed on the ballot must read simply "Shall the city election law be rejected?" That is the language called for by state law.

The petitions that were passed had that question, plus an explanatory statement below saying the referendum would be about abolishing the Board of Election Commissioners.

Technically, besides establishing the Aurora Election Commission, the city is responsible for registering voters, and selecting and removing election judges. Those duties would also be turned over to the clerks of Kane, Will and Kendall counties.

The DuPage County portion of Aurora is handled by the DuPage County Election Commission.

The Aurora Election Commission filed paperwork indicating it opposes the referendum and abolishment of the commission.

Aurora voters established a city election law in 1934. The last time they were asked whether to turn over elections to county clerks was in 1986.

Arroyo and Leach can appeal Akemann's ruling to the 2nd District Appellate Court.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen favors the referendum; he circulated dozens of petition pages himself. Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham favors disbanding the commission, as does the Kendall County clerk.

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