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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues Illinois election decision that references Indiana

In Allan J. Stevo v. Keith et al, a decision just posted by the 7th Circuit, "in typescript", and argued 9/25/08, which deals with the number of signatures required to get one's name on the November 2008 general ballot as an independent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’s Tenth Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Lake and Cook Counties, Judge Posner writes:

But the plaintiff argues that Illinois’s disparate treatment of the two types of district shows that a 5 percent minimum is arbitrary, at least in Illinois. He is using the 5,000‐signatures provision of the law just to show that if it is good enough in newly redistricted districts, it is good enough in all districts. * * *

Suppose the Indiana approach, whereby disaggregation of votes to the precinct level in the preceding election enables the same percentage to be required in districts that have recently been redistricted and districts that have not been, is indeed a compellingly superior approach; nevertheless the plaintiff would not have standing to urge its adoption. The Indiana approach is a solution to the problem of determining previous voter turnout after a redistricting, and the Tenth Congressional District is not a newly redistricted district. So the plaintiff is forced to argue that a uniform rule requiring 5,000 signatures (or a slightly higher number, provided it is below the number of valid signatures he was able to obtain) is so far superior to the present system that the Constitution requires that it be substituted for it. That is wrong, given the disparity in voter turnout in the different districts. We have just seen that requiring a number rather than a percentage may well be a bad feature of Illinois’s treatment of elections in recently redistricted districts; the plaintiff urges us to impose that quite possibly inferior method in all elections, rather than, as at present, in just the elections in newly redistricted districts.

We warned in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 472 F.3d 949, 954 (7th Cir. 2007), affirmed, 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008), against federal judicial micromanagement of state regulation of elections. * * * But the appeal in this case fails on a more basic level: the change the plaintiff asks us to make in the Illinois voting system might well make that system more arbitrary than it already is. AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 1, 2008 04:11 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions