Last month, if you'll recall, we all thought this was a silly dispute, that of course Rahm Emanuel was a Chicagoan who belonged on the ballot, and that even though he left to serve the President, of course he was planning to come back, and while we might not want to vote for him, Chicagoans should undoubtedly have that right.
So let's take a look at the actual statute which governs this ballot requirement:
Sec. 3.1‑10‑5. Qualifications; elective office.
(a) A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment, except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 3.1‑20‑25, subsection (b) of Section 3.1‑25‑75, Section 5‑2‑2, or Section 5‑2‑11.
"And has resided in." Well, that's a bit different from "has a residence in," which I think was our assumption as to what the law required, and that's what today's Illinois Appellate Court ruling (PDF) focused on:
As noted, the operative language at issue requires that a potential candidate have "resided in" the municipality for one year next preceding the election. In its verb form, "reside" generally means, among other things, "to dwell permanently or continuously," or to "have a settled abode for a time." Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1931 (1993). The word is considered to be synonymous with "live, dwell, sojourn, lodge, stay, put (up), [and] stop," but it "may be the preferred term for expressing the idea that a person keeps or returns to a particular dwelling place as his fixed, settled, or legal abode." Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1931 (1993).
These definitions are not interchangeable for our purposes: our selection of the synonym "live" as a fair definition of "resided in" would defeat the candidate’s eligibility to run for office, because he most certainly "lived" outside Chicago for a large part of the statutory one-year period. On the other hand, our selection of a conception of "resided in" more akin to the idea of a permanent abode a person keeps or to which he plans to return-- the definition the Board seems to have employed--would lend much greater support to the candidate’s position. The question for us, then, becomes which of these definitions the legislature meant to invoke with its use of the phrase "reside in" in the Municipal Code....
As Ballhorn [a 1901 case] further explains, requirements that candidates "reside in" the area they would represent "can only be truly served by requiring such representatives to be and remain actual residents of the units which they represent, in contradistinction from constructive residents. A mere constructive resident has no better opportunities for knowing the wants and rightful demands of his constituents, than a non resident, and is as much beyond the wholesome influence of direct contact with them. *** In [the candidate residency statute] the language is not, shall be a resident, but it is, shall 'reside within' ***." Ballhorn, 100 Ill. App. at 573. Although nearly 200 years of technological advances since Illinois’ first candidate "reside in" requirements may have obviated much of their necessity, the legislature has not seen fit to alter the relevant language. We believe, therefore, that the initial purpose of the "reside in" requirement for candidates, and the failure of the legislature to alter that language in the current Municipal Code, strongly indicates that the phrase "resided in" as used in the Municipal Code requires actual, not constructive, residence.
(emphasis mine.) Emanuel didn't meet that test, but there's this statutory exception:
10 ILCS 5/3-2
No elector or spouse shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in any precinct or election district in this State by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States, or of this State.
The Court found this provision inapplicable as to Emanuel. Yes, they say, it means that he didn't lose his "residence" in Chicago to qualify as a registered voter, but it doesn't mean he "resided in" Chicago during the interim either.
That plain language limits the reach of the "business of the United States" exception to "elector[s]" or their spouses; it makes no mention of "candidates." Further, as we have noted, we must interpret statutes "as a whole, with each provision construed in connection with every other section." Section 3-2's "business of the United States" exception is housed not only in the Election Code, but in a portion of the Election Code dealing exclusively with voter qualification, in fact in an Article titled "Qualification of Voters."
In other words, "Rahm, you can vote for anyone you want in this election ... except you, because you can't be on the ballot."
Justice Lampkin's dissenting opinion echoes the points you'd expect -- that Emanuel proved that he never intended to leave Chicago, and that should end it:
The majority acknowledges that the candidate had established a residency in Chicago long before 2009 where he had both a physical presence here and the intent to remain. The majority failed, however, to move past the issue of establishing residency to the relevant analysis, which turns on whether the candidate’s residency, which he had indisputably held, was abandoned when he worked in Washington, D.C., and leased his Chicago home.
The Board’s ruling–that the candidate in 2009 and 2010 did not abandon his status as a resident of Chicago and, thus, remained a resident of Chicago even though he was largely absent from this city from January 2009 until October 1, 2010–was not clearly erroneous. Intent is an issue of fact, and the majority acknowledges that the Board’s fact findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence. This acknowledgment should have ended this case, and resulted in this court affirming the circuit court’s judgment, which confirmed the Board’s ruling that the preponderance of the evidence established that the candidate never formed an intent to either change or terminate his residence in Chicago, or establish his residence in Washington, D.C., or any place other than Chicago. Because the candidate had established his Chicago residency, it is presumed to continue until the contrary is shown, and the burden of proof is on the person who claims that there has been a change.
And Justice Lampkin asks what sounds like a fair question to me:
[T]he majority does not write a single sentence explaining how it defines “actually resided in.” It is patently clear that the majority fails to even attempt to define its newly discovered standard because it is a figment of the majority’s imagination.
How many days may a person stay away from his home before the majority would decide he no longer “actually resides” in it? Would the majority have us pick a number out of a hat? A standard which cannot be defined cannot be applied. If the majority had picked even an arbitrary number of days that voters need not sleep in their own beds before they violated this new arbitrary standard, then at least we would be able to apply this new standard. Should a court consider just the number of days a voter or candidate is absent or are there other relevant factors under the new standard? Apparently, only the majority knows but, for some reason, fails to share it with those charged to abide by it if they want to be a candidate for municipal office.
Per fellow FPer Georgia Logothetis, Emanuel's primary foes are already scrambling to react to the news:
Chico has taken pains to steer clear of the residency challenge and publicly support Emanuel’s right to run for mayor. His campaign did the same after Monday’s ruling. Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Chico, issused the following statement:
“From day one, Gery Chico’s campaign has been about putting Chicagoans back to work, making our neighborhoods safer and giving our children the education they deserve. Today’s news is a surprise but it will not impact how we run our campaign. Gery will continue to work for every vote and lay out his plans to take Chicago in a whole new direction.”
Del Valle, in a statement, brought up the $11.7 million that Emanuel has collected in just three months to bankroll a mayoral campaign that has now been thrust into legal limbo.
“It looked like money was going to decide this election,” del Valle said. “The voters now have a rare opportunity to shape this city’s future.”
Up next: the Illinois Supreme Court. In the meantime, the calendar is a real issue:
Early voting starts a week from today on Jan. 31. An elections board spokesman said ballots have not been printed yet but are scheduled to be printed starting tonight.
Later, Langdon D. Neal, the elections board chairman, issued a statement: "We're going to press with one less candidate for mayor."
Elections board spokesman Jim Allen said ballots are being printed tonight.
“We’ve basically hit the go button,” Allen said. “We needed to do this on the 18th, we were waiting for this decision. We going to press now, we have to.”
“A candidate who is removed from the ballots by the court’s has until Feb. 15 to file as a write-in,” Allen said.
The election is February 22.