Les Cut-The-Taxes Golden’s unusual middle name will appear on ballots for 78th district state representative in Tuesday’s election, thanks to a county circuit court ruling ordering Cook County Clerk David Orr to restore the names.
Orr says he will pursue the authority to keep political slogans off the ballot in an appeal and perhaps in proposed legislation.
But the appeal will not happen before the election, and Orr has nonetheless complied with the judge’s order by pasting stickers with Golden’s full name over ballots already printed without the nickname.
However, Golden Tuesday threatened to sue Orr for sending out absentee ballots without his nickname, accompanied by letters announcing “some changes and name corrections.”
The letter, which Orr’s office says is a standard means of correcting ballots, also notifies voters of three candidates who have withdrawn from local races.
“This is standard procedure that’s been in place as long as this county has used punchcards,” said Orr spokesman Scott Burnham.
Orr says he is considering proposing legislation that will allow county clerks to make changes to ballots even if no citizens object to the ballots.
The county judge ruled that no changes can be made to the names on petitions unless a citizen files an objection to a candidate’s petition within a five-day objection period mandated by state law.
The Cut-The-Taxes scuffle raises an issue that has long been on the minds of legislators and government officials: whether administrative bodies like the State Board of Elections or the Cook County Clerk should have the power to determine whether ballots are in “apparent conformity” with the law.
As long as 15 years ago and as recently as five years ago, the State Board of Elections unsuccessfully lobbied the legislature for the power to determine apparent conformity.
The legislature rejected the motion, with the support of some local clerks who feared they would have to assume the responsibility of determining when petitions are in compliance with election code, said State Board attorney Al Zimmer.
Orr declined to comment on the issue of apparent conformity, saying he is choosing between many possible legislative “ways to skin a cat” and doesn’t yet know which he will choose.
Golden, a Republican, is running against Democrat Deborah Graham for the 78th district state house seat.
Two weeks ago Orr sued the Illinois State Board of Elections for ordering him to put the nickname Les Cut-The-Taxes Golden on local ballots.
The board also ordered the clerk to restore the full name of congressional candidate Stephanie “Vs. the Machine” Sailor.
The clerk’s office removed the nicknames from the ballots even though the names had already been certified by the state board because, Orr said, he has a responsibility to enforce state election code and a Supreme Court ruling barring slogans from ballots.
Graham attorney Burt Odelson supported the state board of election’s ruling, and Golden’s brief in its favor, because he feared a lawsuit might eventually lead a judge to order a re-do of the election after his client won the race.
Orr said such a ruling is “impossible.”
Golden said his lawsuit will demand that the absentee ballots be thrown out because he believes voters will not read Orr’s letter detailing the changes.
“This will greatly aid my chances for victory because there will be no phantom West Side absentee ballots,” Golden said, referring to allegations that West Side precinct workers have forged absentee ballots in support of Deborah Graham and other candidates.
In a recent lawsuit that broke the primary election tie between Graham and Dorothy Reid, Cook County Judge Raymond Jagielski ruled there was not sufficient evidence of absentee ballot fraud to throw out votes Reid alleged were fraudulently cast.
“If David Orr had followed the judge’s order this would not be an issue. He defied the judge’s order. This will aid my candidacy, but that’s not the reason we’re doing it.”
“This is a typical Les Golden stunt,” said Orr spokesman Scott Burnham. “What’s good enough for everyone else isn’t good enough for Les.”