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Court: Let Forest Park Vote!

On March 16th, the Illinois Appellate Court 1st District overturned the finding of the Electoral Board of Forest Park and the Cook County Circuit Court ruling that tossed all 276 sheets containing 2,840 valid signatures from a citizens' petition that would allow residents Forest Park residents to vote on the ballot question, "Shall Video Gaming be Prohibited in Forest Park?"

The appellate court found that despite six sheets having erroneous headings, the rest of the petition sheets exhibited substantial compliance with Illinois election law. Thus, this binding referendum is now allowed to continue to the ballot.

The court also found that the local election board was not to hear on Rule 6 motions and to place the question on the ballot for the November 6 election. This will be the first time in Illinois a vote will be held on video gaming after it has been introduced into a municipality.

"We are working to give the citizens a vote on video gambling as provided for in the [state] gaming law and as they have repeatedly expressed a desire to do so," said Let Forest Park Vote President Jordan Kuehn. "We have been stopped by the local election board as well as our elected officials. More people have signed this petition than voted for the last two mayoral candidates combined. The people want to vote."

Backstory: A group of local citizens, organized under the political action committee Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming, submitted a petition to the Village of Forest Park to place video gaming on the March 2018 ballot.

According to Illinois gaming law (230 ILCS 40/70), signatures from 25 percent of registered voters are required to put a binding referendum on the ballot which allows citizens to vote on whether they want video gambling in their town.

The Cook County Clerk confirmed on January 17th that Let Forest Park Vote had 2,840 valid signatures, or more than 25 percent of registered voters in Forest Park.

The local paper, the Forest Park Review, has covered the most recent developments in this story here.

Chronology: In 2012, video gambling (using the term "video gaming") was legalized statewide under 230 ILCS 40/70. Only the Village of Winfield has passed a binding referendum (in 2012) to keep video gambling out.

In 2013, Forest Park citizens voted two-to-one against video gambling in a non-binding referendum.

In 2016, a citizen group submitted 2,267 valid signatures for a binding referendum on the question "Shall Video Gaming be Prohibited in Forest Park?" which were found by the Electoral Board to be just below the threshold of 25 percent. The village council voted to approve video gambling in October 2016.

Later in 2016 and throughout 2017, Forest Park citizens collected 2,840 valid signatures for a new petition effort for the same question. This petition was filed on December 18, 2017, with the Forest Park village clerk.

In early 2018, the petition was challenged by James Watts, owner of O'Sullivan's Public House in Forest Park. At a January 17th records exam, the Cook County Clerk certified that 3,522 signatures were submitted, 1,256 objections were submitted, and 2,840 signatures were found to be valid, which is a greater percentage than the minimum required threshold of 25 percent of registered voters in Forest Park.

On January 23rd, the electoral board in Forest Park ruled that the petition should be dismissed because six headings of the submitted sheets varied from the rest of the petition. The circuit court agreed with this decision. However, the appellate court reversed both decisions in a decisive manner.

The events leading up to the inception of this petition drive are chronicled by the Forest Park Review in its 2016 Story of the Year.

Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming is a political action committee formed by a group of Forest Park citizens with the purpose of organizing a citizens' petition to bring the question of the legality of video gaming to the ballot in Forest Park. Jordan Kuehn is the president of the committee and Kristin McCoy is the treasurer.

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Previously: The Battle Of Forest Park.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 26, 2018


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