Blame the Illinois Republican Party for military ballot scandal

By DOUG IBENDAHL • October 14, 2010
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According to the U.S. Justice Department, some counties in Illinois may have missed the deadline for mailing absentee ballots to members of the military and other overseas American voters as part of a new federal overseas voting law.


At least one county has already admitted its military ballots were not mailed by the September deadline. St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney says absentee ballots to military personnel didn’t get mailed in time because they were waiting on a court decision as to whether the Constitution Party candidates would be on the ballot.


Top Republicans, as expected, wasted no time flooding the media with crocodile tears over the disenfranchisement of our military personnel. But here’s the problem – it was the Illinois Republican Party’s desperate need to keep conservatives, libertarians, and at least four African Americans off the ballot that caused the delays. State GOP Chairman Pat Brady is a Mark Kirk guy, and Kirk’s people are terrified Republicans will wake up and realize how much Kirk will damage the Republican brand if he becomes Senator. 


Worse, Pat Brady originally tried to hide the Illinois Republican Party’s actions, and in fact he’s still not leveled with voters about the extent of his organization’s involvement.


The Democrats filed their share of objections to candidates’ petitions this election season also – but not only did they file fewer, none of their elections cases went beyond the statutory time limits. The objections filed by the Democrats caused no delays in the mailing of ballots. 


As we have reported (see here, here, here, here and here), it was the Illinois Republican Party’s objection (done under the name of two phony “objectors” recruited by Pat Brady’s operation) to the statewide slate of Constitution Party candidates that caused the delay. Ironically, the Constitution Party’s slate was led by a military veteran: U.S. Senate candidate Randy Stufflebeam. Randy served his country for 22 years in the United States Marine Corps.


And unlike Mark Kirk, Randy Stufflebeam has never lied about his military service.


The State Board of Elections’ hands are also far from clean. By refusing to take the issue of phony objectors seriously, the agency only encourages the kind of dishonest games Pat Brady and his cronies want to play. The State Board of Elections was overwhelmed with objections this summer (with the largest number coming from Pat Brady’s operation), and as a result the agency failed to dispense with all of the cases in a manner that would comply with the statutory deadlines for oversees military voting.


Pat Brady should have known that when he backed objections to 23 candidates that there would be a good chance he might infringe on the voting rights of our military personnel. But it’s pretty obvious Brady didn’t care.


The intent of the Republican and Democratic parties in filing objections isn’t just to kick “competition” off the ballot – rather the main purpose is to keep the candidates occupied and to drag out the process. A candidate tied up in court can’t be out campaigning.


The sooner the State Board of Elections stops enabling dishonest players like Pat Brady, the sooner our U.S. military will stop paying the price.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.



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