Election officials plan to sue over special election

Dan Petrella

Election officials in DuPage and Kane counties, along with other jurisdictions in the 14th Congressional District, were planning to file a lawsuit seeking a federal court's approval for a revised schedule to handle an upcoming special election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich scheduled the special election for Saturday, March 8. Primary voters will choose their parties' nominees Tuesday, Feb. 5, to replace Hastert until his term expires in January 2009.

But election officials fear there will not be enough time to count absentee ballots and validate the results of the primaries before the March 8 special election under the normal election timeline, said Robert Saar, executive director of the DuPage County Election Commission.

"There is a statutory plan that's been put in place for how regular elections run," Saar said. "The dates (of the primaries and special election) are so close together that it doesn't allow us to follow that calendar."

The lawsuit was scheduled to be filed late Monday Jan. 7afternoon or Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court, Saar said. The candidates seeking to replace Hastert and the Illinois State Board of Elections will be named as defendants.

The election officials had considered naming the governor in the suit but decided the date he chose for the special election will work as long as the court approves the abbreviated schedule, Saar said.

"We think the March 8 day is a fine day, and we're just going to ask the court for its blessing to compress the calendar," he said.

Hastert stepped down Nov. 26 after 21 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was House speaker from 1999 until January 2007.

Wheaton Leader