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Seeking office in DuPage may get easier
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/30/2008 4:20 PM | Updated: 5/30/2008 9:56 PM

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Running for office in DuPage County soon could be like campaigning in any other Illinois county.

Currently, candidates seeking a DuPage post have to collect three times the number of signatures on their nominating petitions as their counterparts in the state's 101 other counties.

But the state House of Representatives Friday repealed that provision of the state's election code with a 65-49 vote. The Senate unanimously voted to repeal the clause last month. The bill moves on to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's desk for approval, which could take weeks.

Republican state Sen. Dan Cronin of Elmhurst championed the initial legislation last year that required the additional signatures. He said it requires candidates to work harder to seek office.

"The public has the right to demand and expect that," he said. "Why shouldn't the candidates go out and knock on their neighbors' doors and talk to them?"

DuPage Democratic Party Chairman Bob Peickert said Cronin was trying to make it harder to compete against Republicans.

"The fact remains, why have a different formula for DuPage County than anywhere else?" He said. "It makes no sense."

Signature requirements for nominating petitions are based on primary voters. In the past, candidates seeking a Republican nomination in DuPage County had to get many more signatures than Democrats. But because Democrats outnumbered Republican voters in the February primary for the first time in county history, signature requirements in the next election will favor the GOP candidates.

Every other county beside DuPage requires signatures from .5 percent of the total primary voters. DuPage requires 1.5 percent. For February's primary that meant Republicans seeking countywide office needed 3,000 signatures instead of 1,000, and Democrats needed 2,600 instead of 870.

County board candidates' signature requirements are based on the number of primary voters in their district. In some districts, Republican candidates needed hundreds of signatures while Democrats needed less than 100, election commission officials said.

State Rep. Paul Froehlich, a Schaumburg Democrat and former Republican whose district includes a small portion of DuPage, sponsored the bill in the House.

"We are now going to have equality in DuPage," he said.