There could be penalties

December 22, 2013 

In the Sept. 18 edition of the Belleville News-Democrat, Jim Tenuto of the Illinois State Board of Elections was quoted as saying, "The statute has no penalties for counties that do not follow the two-year (voter registration purge) requirement.' Obviously he has not read the Illinois Election Code (10 ILCS 5) because Article 29-12, titled "Disregard of the Election Code," says: "Except with respect to Article 9 of this Code, any person who knowingly... fails to do any act required by this Code, shall, unless a different punishment is prescribed by this Code, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor."

In Criminal Offenses (720 ILCS 5), I found my personal favorite, Article 33, commonly known as Official Misconduct. Section 33-3 reads in part, "A public officer or employee ...commits misconduct when, in his official capacity, he... Intentionally or recklessly fails to perform any mandatory duty as required by law; A public officer or employee ... convicted of violating any provision of this Section forfeits his office or employment or position as a special government agent. In addition, he commits a Class 3 felony."

Hmm, forfeiting one's employment and/or pension, a Class A Misdemeanor and a Class 3 felony (two to five years in prison) all seem to be applicable penalties. However, if the state's attorney's office fails to indict them or files charges, Tenuto is correct in practice.

Fortunately, we always have the right to file charges ourselves as citizens but we must read the law first.

Matt Hawkins

President, Civic Alliance East St. Louis

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