Lee County Electoral Board throws out paper clip objections to candidate filings

Incumbents Mike Koppien, Chris Norberg and Jim Schielein will remain on Republican ballot

From left, Lee County Deputy Circuit Clerk Shannon Langloss, County Clerk Nancy Peterson and State's Attorney Charley Boonstra comprising the Lee County Electoral Board met April 12, 2022, to decide on three objections to candidate petitions.

DIXON — Three Lee County Board members running for re-election will be on the primary ballot. A panel determined Tuesday an objection’s assertion that paper clips were inadequate to secure their petitions to be unfounded.

Dixon resident Jennifer Lawson made formal election objections to County Board District 1 Republican incumbents Mike Koppien, Chris Norberg and Jim Schielein, arguing that they should be stricken from the June 28 primary ballot because their nomination papers were held together using paper clips.

Jennifer Lawson (right) and attorney Kylee Miller argue the petitions submitted by Koppien for placement on the ballot were not properly bundled.

There were three hearings at the beginning of the month where attorneys could present evidence and testimony, and attorney Kylee Miller, representing Lawson, said the only relevant fact for the objections is that the papers were bound by paper clip and that it is not sufficient binding.

Hearing officer Tim Zollinger, appointed by the Lee County Electoral Board to oversee the hearings, disagreed.

Zollinger presented his findings to the Electoral Board with recommendations that all three objections be denied because the “objector failed to meet her burden of proof.” Both sides were given the opportunity to issue exceptions to the recommendations, and none were filed.

Michael Koppien takes the stand Friday, April 1, 2022 during a challenge to his petition to run for Lee County board.

The Electoral Board comprised of County Clerk Nancy Peterson, Lee County State’s Attorney Charley Boonstra and Deputy Circuit Clerk Shannon Langloss met Tuesday to decide on the objections.

The meeting lasted 10 minutes with the board making quick work to unanimously deny all objections.

According to the Illinois Election Code regarding candidate petitions:

“Such sheets before being filed shall be neatly fastened together in book form, by placing the sheets in a pile and fastening them together at one edge in a secure and suitable manner, and the sheets shall then be numbered consecutively. The sheets shall not be fastened by pasting them together end to end, so as to form a continuous strip or roll.”

It doesn’t specify how the pages should be fastened whether by paper clip, staple or other manner.

The candidates filed their five-page packets by paper clip on March 7, and a receipt for the documents was added to each one.

Deputy County Clerk Deb Phillips previously testified that a paper clip was sufficient to bind the papers. When candidates pick up their blank packets, they are bound by paper clip as well.

Lawson is an environmental engineer and lives in County Board District 1. Last year she spoke against the proposed 3,838-acre South Dixon Solar development as a neighbor of the project with concerns that included cutting off future development, how tying up the land for 40 years shouldn’t be considered a temporary use, the effect on tourism, and whether transmission lines would be able to handle the project.

The project was ultimately approved by the County Board in December and will span across a large footprint south of the industrial park on state Route 26.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.