Judge halts plan that would disrupt two Republican judge campaigns in Madison County

·2 min read

A judge granted Madison County’s request Monday to temporarily halt a plan that would change the county’s judicial system and disrupt two Republican judge campaigns.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law earlier this month that splits the current 3rd Judicial Circuit, which includes Madison and Bond counties, into subcircuits.

A lawsuit filed by Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine argues the subcircuits were drawn using outdated precincts, and that the plan doesn’t give the county enough time to accommodate changes before this year’s election.

The lawsuit also alleges the plan is unconstitutional because it eliminates countywide judgeship elections, requiring voters to only vote within their subcircuit.

The change would force Republican judge candidates Christopher Threlkeld and Amy Sholar to move in order to run.

A judge agreed to a temporary restraining order because the law might be unconstitutional, it could confuse and disenfranchise voters, and it could exclude candidates from the election.

“Potential candidates who are citizens of Madison County have an interest in being able to run for a judicial vacancy already established and designated by the Illinois Supreme Court in the 2022 election,” the order stated.

Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said earlier this month the subcircuits would allow communities to elect judges who represent their interests and create diversity on the bench.

Republican Judge Ryan Cadagin of Illinois’ 7th Circuit Court in Sangamon County ordered the State Board of Elections to accept any signatures collected between Jan. 22 and 24 for the elections Threlkeld and Sholar hope to win.

The county would be forced to “engage in unnecessary expense in redoing voter cards and other election related tasks, voters will be deprived of a vote for judicial candidates if they do not reside in a particular sub-circuit, and candidates will be excluded from participating in the election based on their current residence,” the order states.

The harm to Madison County and its voters and candidates would outweigh the harm to the defendants in the case: Pritzker, the Illinois State Board of Elections and Illinois Supreme Court Clerk Cynthia Grant, according to the order.

Cadagin’s order prohibits the law from taking effect until the next hearing, which was set for Feb. 15. Haine said his office will move “to continue this protection” past that date.

This map shows the new division of subcircuits in Madison and Bond counties.
This map shows the new division of subcircuits in Madison and Bond counties.
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