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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ind. Decisions - More on: Remote voting sites at issue in Lake County

Well, now three judges are involved: (1) Lake Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins - who granted a restraining order last Friday morning preventing the Lake County election board from opening three satellite voting centers; (2) U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen - who, according to a Gary Post-Tribune story Friday, "convinced the political antagonists to cease hostilities for the weekend after attorneys for the Democratic Party agreed not to launch early in-person voting Monday morning in Clerk's Offices in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago" and set a federal court hearing on a TRO for this coming Thursday; and (3) Lake County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo, who yesterday, according to this report today by Piet Levy of the Post-Tribune, "ruled that the sites be opened, contrary to a decision by Lake Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins' decision Friday that the satellite early voting offices not be allowed to open Monday."

More from today's story:

CROWN POINT -- The ongoing political feud over early voting centers took a new twist Monday when a Lake County judge ordered the mandatory opening of early voting sites in East Chicago, Gary and Hammond -- three days before a scheduled hearing on the same subject in U.S. District Court. * * *

It remains to be seen how effective Arredondo's ruling will be, however, considering that U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on the early voting sites. On Friday, Van Bokkelen ruled "there is no state temporary restraining order" -- effectively voiding Hawkins' order -- and set the Thursday hearing date.

On Monday, attorney James Wieser filed a new lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court against the Lake County Board of Elections, claiming that having early voting sites in the county's three largest cities is the only way to make sure the elections are free and equal -- a staple of the state constitution. * * *

Observers say the issue may come down to an interpretation of state law and whether the federal government has jurisdiction in the matter.

See this ILB entry from Oct. 5 for background, including links to the federal docket and documents from Judge Hawkins' court.

More information comes from the blog Progress Illinois (sponsored by the SEIU Illinois State Council), which reported last evening in this entry that "the federal court has moved their hearing up from Thursday to tomorrow morning." Which would be today.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 7, 2008 08:02 AM
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