State's attorney responds to the stay on late voting, asks court - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

State's attorney responds to the stay on late voting, asks court to reconsider

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

After a judge put a stop to late voting in a last-minute motion Friday, Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard asked the Appellate Court to reconsider it Monday.

Barnard asked the court to vacate the emergency stay, which is blocking an injunction that would have allowed late voting all this week for some voters who were unable to get a ballot. This comes after the polling places in Adams County ran out of ballots during Tuesday's primary election.

"The most important thing for everybody is that this come to a decision point in the appellate court as quickly as possible and I don't want to jeopardize that even it if it means waiving oral argument," Barnard said. "I will simply hope and depend that they will reverse their decision after I've had a chance to respond without oral argument."

In its Friday's motion to intervene and motion to vacate Thursday's injunction order, the attorney general's office states there were certain safeguards and regularities not present with the late voting injunction that are present in early voting by mail.

But Barnard listed the safeguards in place in his response.

"Both the Petition for Mandatory Injunction, as well as the Order Granting Mandatory Injunction, were carefully tailored to both identify voters who were actually affected by the lack of ballots, and to eliminate the opportunity for mischief. By way of background, Adams County employs a combination of computerized polling places, and polling places with manual registration, the registration process is such that a computerized receipt/application is produced upon the voter presenting himself or herself at the polling place. The voter then proceeds to the precinct station within that polling place, given that all polling places with computerized technology are multi-precinct polling places, and exchanges that registration/application for a ballot. As such, the combination of the issuance of a computerized receipt/application, and the lack of such application in the precinct records from the March 15 Primary Election is a reliable indication that the affected voter appeared at the polls to vote, but was prevented from doing so due to lack of ballots at the voter's precinct. Transcript; pp. 19-22."

Barnard feels the Attorney General's office missed the point.

"The guardian of the process, which is the government, is the very entity that took their right to vote away from them," Barnard said. "It seems to me that we ought to be focusing on what can we do to restore the right of the voter, the citizen."

Barnard goes on to state voters who were prevented from voting, either at computerized polling places where voters who had not yet registered were told that no ballots were available and left without registering, or at polling places which employed manual registration, an equally reliable safeguard was in place.

"To both confirm the voter was unable to vote due to lack of available ballots and to eliminate mischief, any voter claiming to have appeared at the polls would be required to execute an affidavit when appearing for extended voting, under penalties of perjury, that the voter appeared at the polls to vote, but was turned away because there were no available ballots. Order Granting Mandatory Injunction; par. 7. For affected voters who voted at polls with manual registration, a voter signature is obtained only when a ballot is issued to that voter. Transcript; pp. 21. As such, the absence of a signature on the polling place rolls is a reliable indication that the voter was not issued a ballot. Again, such voter claiming to have been affected by lack of available ballots would be required to execute an affidavit in the form provided as a condition of eligibility for extended voting."

Barnard states that Chuck Venvertloh testified that extended voting wouldn't delay the certification of the Adams County voting totals on March 29, the date he says is required by law to certify the election results.

Barnard goes on to list five more reasons why he feels the Appellate Court should vacate the stay.

  1. That the right to vote is both Constitutionally guaranteed, and amounts to a sacred covenant between citizens and their government, needs no citation to authority...
  2. Intervenor - Appellant places mistaken emphasis upon the failings of the county clerk in not providing sufficient ballots, citing a litany of questions about what might have been done to prevent the problem of disenfranchised voters. Again, it is conceded that lack of available ballots led to that disenfranchisement. However, focus upon where, how, or in what manner the process in general, or the county clerk specifically, failed the affected voters, the fact remained that government denied their right to vote...
  3. Central to the decision of the circuit court, as well as its supporting logic, is the evidence and the reality that the remedy embodied in the Order Granting Mandatory Injunction is uniform, feasible with uniformity in terms of technology/method, and within timetables for certification of the Primary Election vote totals for Adams County...
  4. Likewise, the argument that affected voters will somehow be swayed from their original intent by being informed of, or having access to, informal voting totals and thus would obtain unfair weight or advantage with their vote, fails for two reasons. First, where is the logic that a voters private deliberation with himself or herself, or conviction regarding the vote will change with the wind, other than the assumption that voters are prone to acting upon instincts other than long held conviction? Second, and more to the point here, is the notion that the right to vote itself, untethered to a likely or even predetermined outcome, remains every bit as vital and protectable...
  5. Finally, the argument of Intervenor-Appellant that the limited remedy ordered by the circuit court will 'open the flood gates to other election mischief and unfairness' cannot withstand scrutiny. Emergency Motion For Stay Pending Appeal. par. 28, p.15. Such an assertion is not only speculation by definition, but it completely ignores the safeguards imposed by the circuit court. Worse, it presumes that voters who were denied their right to vote by the very 'guardian' of that right would ignore the gravity of their oath, and now engage in wholesale fraud on the heels of their previous, and appropriate, attempt to vote...

"There's about three different ways they can go with on this," Barnard said Monday morning. "They might simply rule on it without oral argument. They may invite oral argument."

"They could do nothing," Barnard added.

However, Barnard said his goal is to get the situation resolved as soon as possible so people who didn't get to vote in last Tuesday's primary can have a chance to cast ballots.

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