Editorials

Tyler Oberkfell scored 230 to his opponent’s 19, but he loses

Tyler Oberkfell, of Troy, is running as a write-in candidate for Madison County Board District 2 after his nominating petitions were declared to be lacking. His valid signatures were too few at 230 to run as an independent while his opponent needed only 19 to run as a Republican.
Tyler Oberkfell, of Troy, is running as a write-in candidate for Madison County Board District 2 after his nominating petitions were declared to be lacking. His valid signatures were too few at 230 to run as an independent while his opponent needed only 19 to run as a Republican.

So who has more right to be on a ballot, a guy who gets 19 people to say he should run or a guy who gets 273 people to say he should run? What if the count is 19 to 234? What if it is 19 to 230?

Fair play and common sense would dictate that someone with hundreds of people saying he is a worthy candidate better deserves a ballot spot than a guy who doesn’t even get 20 people to back him. Fair play and common sense have nothing to do with Illinois election law, Tyler Oberkfell, of Troy, is learning.

Oberkfell wants to be an independent candidate for the Madison County Board representing District 2 in Troy. He was booted from the ballot because the Republican nominee, Donald Moore, challenged the signatures on Oberkfell’s nominating petitions.

Moore only needed to gather enough signatures to equal 5 percent of the registered Republicans who voted in the last gubernatorial election. He got his 19 signatures.

Oberkfell’s bid as an independent required him to get 5 percent of all voters in the district, or 232 signatures. He gathered 273.

Moore challenged Oberkfell’s petitions to the county election board and got 39 signatures deemed invalid. Moore then appealed to a judge and got another four eliminated at a hearing Oberkfell said he knew nothing about.

That left Oberkfell with 230 valid signatures — two fewer than the minimum. He is off the ballot.

It is unlikely that Oberkfell will find his way onto the ballot despite an appeal. His write-in campaign may be his best bet.

Illinois election laws are designed to protect incumbents and party politics, plus make it as hard as possible for Jane or Joe Average to serve in government. Well-meaning Illinois candidates have been denied spots on the ballot for misnumbering pages, failing to initial pages, including voters who moved within the district but failed to update their registrations and other minor flaws.

While Oberkfell’s tenacity at trying to serve his community is admirable, his sanity for wanting to be part of the political morass may be questionable. If his quest fails, at least he learned a hard lesson — if there is a next time — and offered an object lesson to others pondering public service.

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