Court Rules That Election Day Does Not Close All Local Governments

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Court Rules That Election Day Does Not Close All Local Governments

Oct 19, 2020

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In June, Governor Pritzker signed Public Act 101-0642 into law, which included the following language about November 3, 2020, General Election:

Notwithstanding any other provision of State law to the contrary, November 3, 2020 shall be a State holiday known as 2020 General Election Day and shall be observed throughout the State. November 3, 2020 shall be deemed a legal school holiday for purposes of the School Code, State Universities Civil Service Act, and any other law designating a holiday. All government offices, with the exception of election authorities, shall be closed unless authorized to be used as a location for election day services or as a polling place.

Based in part on the law’s provisions that target schools and colleges and do not mention municipalities, the Illinois Municipal League (IML) filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory judgment about whether other local governments must also be closed.

On Friday, October 16, the Sangamon County Circuit Court ruled that local governments such as municipalities are not required to close on Election Day. Based on the court’s reasoning, the ruling also applies to park districts and other local governments which may also remain open. The court explained that the relevant provision of the Election Code was ambiguous and that legislative history showed an intent to close schools and universities that could serve as polling places, rather than to close local governments more generally. The court also indicated that the legislation created an unfunded mandate and did not have sufficient language to override the home rule authority of some municipalities regarding whether to close their offices.

If you have any questions about requirements for Election Day, please contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney.