Monday, November 9, 2009

Code of Fair Campaign Practices

When I turned in my petitions for the sheriff's race here in McHenry County, I was handed a form and told to "Sign there". The form? The Code of Fair Campaign Practices, as outlined in the Illinois State election law at 10 ILCS 5/29B-10.

Since I was there to turn in my petitions, I figured that the form was required. I didn't think there would be too much wrong with a Code that was in an elections law.

Wrong! I should have read it first. Now I must decide whether to rescind the statement to which I solemnly pledged.


Paragraph (6) reads, "I will defend and uphold the right of every qualified American voter to full and equal participation in the electoral process."

I cannot do that. I cannot afford to do that. Let's say that some poor sharecropper in Mississippi is kept from the polls and not allowed to vote. Does this mean I have to jump in my car and head south to defend him?

And what's with the "American" voter? What is the qualified voter is Chinese or Japanese?

I would comply with most of the rest of the Code without having to sign my name to it.

But the real sticking point for me on this Code is that it was handed to me with a "Sign there" direction. I wasn't told it was optional or voluntary.

On the reverse side of the signature page it reads, "The State Board of Elections or county clerk shall inform each political committee that subscription to the Code is voluntary." (The State definition of committee includes the candidate.)

There is nothing "voluntary" about being handed a form and told to "Sign there."

I've spoken with other candidates who also were told to sign it, when they were there to submit their petitions. None has told me that he thought the Code was voluntary.

The moral of the story? Don't sign anything without reading and understanding it first.

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