Q & A - District Obligations Under the Amended Election Code

November 9, 2010

By  Alan M. Mullins

Public Act 96-1008 moved the time period for filing candidate nomination papers from the second and third weeks of January to the second and third weeks of December.  For the April, 2011 school board election, the first day for filing nominating petitions is December 13, 2010, and the final day is December 20, 2010. The period for filing objections to nominating petitions begins after the last day for filing and continues for the five business days following the final filing date.  Accordingly, the last day for filing objections is December 28, 2010.  The amended Election Code provides that the office of the local election official, often the board or district secretary, must be open until 5 p.m. of that last day, regardless of the regular closing time for the office.  Given that most school districts will likely be out for winter break during at least a portion of the five business day period for filing objections, questions have arisen as to how a school district’s local election official can satisfy the legal requirements of the amended Election Code.

 Does the District’s Administrative Office have to remain open each business day during the time period for filing objections?

 Yes.  The time period for filing objections begins Tuesday, December 21, 2010 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday December 28, 2010.

What hours must a District’s Administrative Office Remain Open During the Objection Period?

District offices must remain open for at least seven hours on each of the five days objections may be filed.  The Election Code defines a “business day” as “any day in which the office of (the school district) is open to the public for a minimum of 7 hours.”  Days on which the office is not open for at least seven hours would not be a “business day” as defined by the Election Code.

Does the District’s Administrative Office have to remain open on December 23, 2010?

Yes.  Friday, December 24, 2010 is a State holiday.  However, Thursday, December 23, 2010 is not a State holiday. Accordingly, a District’s administrative offices must remain open on December 23, 2010.

We acknowledge that there are differing opinions and interpretations of the provisions of amended Election Code discussed herein.  While our reading of the statute is narrow and our advice conservative, a District minimizes its risk of violating the statute by remaining open for seven hours each business day during the objection period including on December 23, 2010, with the District’s administrative office remaining open until 5:00 on December 28, 2010.

If you have any specific questions regarding when your District’s office must remain open during the objection period, please contact Alan Mullins at 312-565-3100, Ext. 236 or  amullins@edlawyer.com.