Western Suburb Citizens Group Challenges Video Gambling With Ballot Referendum Requiring Signatures From 25 Percent of Registered Voters

Video Gaming
(Source: Forest Park Review)

This citizens’ petition could be the first one placed on a ballot in Illinois after the state legalized video gaming that has a chance of overturning local video gambling.

Forest Park, IL—(ENEWSPF)—January 19, 2018

By: Jordan Kuehn and Kris McCoy

On December 18th, 2017 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 video gambling in their town. The Cook County Clerk confirmed on Jan. 17 that Let Forest Park Vote had 2,840 valid signatures, or more than 25 percent of registered voters in Forest Park.

History

In 2013, Forest Park citizens already voted two-to-one against video gambling in a non-binding referendum. Since video gambling was legalized in 2012, only the Village of Winfield, Illinois has passed a binding referendum (in 2012) to keep video gambling out.

In 2016, a citizen group submitted 2,267 valid signatures, which were found to be just below the threshold of 25 percent.   The village council voted to approve video gambling in Oct. 2016.

“We are working to give the citizens a vote on video gambling as provided for in the gaming law and as they have repeatedly expressed a desire to do so. 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.” – Jordan Kuehn

The 2018 petition was challenged by James Watts, owner of O’Sullivan’s Public House in Forest Park. At the Jan. 17 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% of registered voters in Forest Park, IL.

The process continues at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 23rd at the motion hearing before the local election board at Village Hall in Forest Park, 517 Desplaines Ave.

Additionally, in order to reach the upcoming March ballot, the group will seek legal action to remove three nuisance referenda questions that were filed on November 8, 2016 to clog the ballot by former village commissioner Mark Hosty.

These nuisance referenda were filed too early and have since expired. According to 10 ILCS 5/28-5, if more than three questions are submitted for a particular election, public questions in excess of the three may be certified for the next election if such election occurs within one year of the petitions being filed. The village clerk, also a non-elected member of the election board, has already certified these nuisance questions for the March ballot despite being informed on Dec 27, 2017 of the clear language of the statute ruling these questions void.

The events leading up to the inception of this petition drive are chronicled by the Forest Park Review in the 2016 Story of the year: Video gaming article.

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.

For additional information, visit facebook.com/LetFPVote or #LetFPVote.

Source: Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming