Election Day has come and gone in North Riverside. But is it over? In the minds of many North Riverside residents and some of the candidates themselves, we have a feeling that the 2013 election will never be over.
That’s not a good thing. Elections ought to settle arguments, not start them. This election hasn’t settled much except that it has solidified our belief that the way electoral matters are handled in the state of Illinois is wrong and cries out for relief.
We’ve written about this previously, so forgive us sounding like a broken record, but the state legislature needs to change the way electoral challenges are handled. It must take local politics out of the process. Independent electoral boards are critical.
Not only would independent boards remove the appearance (heck, it would remove the reality) of politics determining who can and can’t appear on a ballot, they would also be more likely to rule consistently on a host of technical objections made to ballots every election cycle.
Missing staples. Missing page numbers. Deciding whether symbols should be counted as words in the names of political parties.
We’re not suggesting that the state throw out all rules related to nominating petitions. And, yes, we do believe that anyone who wants to hold public office ought to be able to follow directions. But there also ought to be some common sense applied in cases where piddling errors deny voters a choice.
The trouble is, if politics is a driving motivator in determining who ought to be on the ballot and who shouldn’t, then common sense has a tendency to fly out the window. Again, an independent electoral board can apply these kinds of rules evenly and fairly to serve the interests of both candidates and voters.
In North Riverside, the battle over who would be on the ballot overshadowed the candidates themselves. Instead of learning what candidates believed, what they wanted, how they would change government, voters learned very little about who was running.
In place of actual debate, there was mainly name-calling and schoolyard taunting contests. A lot of it was downright ugly, on all sides. Some of it was shameful.
This was no way to hold an election.