Citizen Challenges Illinois Candidates’ Eligibility

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“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” – Samuel Adams

One citizen in Illinois is standing up for the integrity of the election process and her right as a voter to make certain that the candidates from whom she chooses in the November election are indeed “constitutionally eligible” to hold public office.

On June 28th 2010, Sharon Meroni, a.k.a. Chalice Jackson of Patriot’s Heart Network returned to the eligibility issue by objecting that 32 candidates failed to prove Constitutional eligibility to be on the ballot.

Meroni objected during a 5 day period where candidates and citizens living in the area served by the particular office can contest placement on the ballot of any candidate who applied the week before.  June 28th was the final day in the 5 day period and Meroni filed 32 objections, one for every candidate seeking office in her voting districts for the November 2010 election.

According to PHN, the primary objective of objecting to the candidates was to “assure that ballots in Illinois contain constitutionally eligible candidates in the 2010 election.” Statements released by Meroni indicate that last year she did extensive research on the election processes in Illinois and through her research she learned:

  • No one in Illinois is responsible to check for constitutional eligibility of any candidates running for any office in Illinois.
  • Proof of constitutional eligibility of candidates is not available to the public.
  • The ability for citizens to demand proof is hindered by restrictive contest periods, and insufficient procedures and information required to obtain placement on the ballot.
  • Voter registration status is not a fair measure of constitutional eligibility to run for office because anyone can register to vote in Illinois without being checked for citizenship.
  • The motor vehicle facilities register people to vote even when they know their ID is false and will not permit them to have a state ID.

On Tuesday, July 12th, Meroni attended her second hearing at 10am in front of the McHenry County Election Board which has jurisdiction over Meroni’s objection to Sally Wiggins’ petition for the Twenty-second Circuit Judgeship.

Following the hearing, Meroni claims to have achieved her “first official eligibility victory” after receiving a legally verified birth certificate for Ms. Sally Wiggins and two other birth certificates from two former Democrats, now Independents, Mr. Scott Cohen and Mr. Brian Swilley.

How much of an eligibility victory it actually is for Meroni has yet to be determined. Only time will tell if her objections actually bring any changes to a defunct election process that takes no responsibility on verifying the constitutional eligibility of political candidates. However, Meroni’s actions do make me wonder if it would be beneficial for other citizens, all across the country, in every city, county and state to flood their election offices with objections after this November election.

If other citizens took actions similar to Meroni’s, maybe someone would finally pay attention to the fact that no governmental agency is required to check that a candidate’s signatures are valid or that the candidate meets the Constitutional eligibility to hold public office.  Only when this issue gets the press it deserves to force the system to change can we be certain that only verified candidates are placed on the ballot.  So, perhaps it will take thousands of objections which make the whole election process come to a grinding bureaucratic halt before the legislators take notice and finally agree to make the changes that are needed to the election process.

I admire Meroni’s tenacity and have come to respect her work as Chalice on the Patriot’s Heart Network.  But,  I am sure that even Chalice will admit there are many other problems with the election process that no one seems to be talking about.

From a systemic standpoint, in my opinion, these problems are so severe that they can no longer be ignored.  For example, I know that Chalice is planning to accept a candidate’s birth certificate as proof of eligibility, but I think that approach is “fatally flawed” for a variety of reasons.

Please keep in mind that I am not trying to be a backseat lawsuit driver here.  However, the more research that I have done on the availability of fake documentation, the more I am convinced that requiring only one form of documentation is not sufficient.

For example, recently I read an interesting study, done in 2006 by the Office of Inspector General, on birth certificate fraud. Click here for the Report. The study clearly states it is recommended that birth certificates should not be the only document that is used to prove identification. In fact, the report explains that interviews with relatives, etc.  should also be used.  I think that this is an excellent report for Chalice to present to the Election Board, don’t you?

In further congressional testimony from the Center for Immigration Studies, (link here) the Chairman of the Board explains to Congress how easy it is to obtain fake immigration and naturalization documents.

Then there is more Congressional testimony that highlights how easy it is to obtain and use fraudulent social security numbers. You can read that testimony here.

And, then there is the longstanding problem with Vital Statistics.  It appears that there is no set standard on how states deal with birth and death records, which makes it extremely difficult to obtain accurate and up to date information. View the report on Vital Statistic here and read the conclusions on page 86.

If you take the time to read the above reports and just think about it for a while, I think you’ll conclude that common sense dictates that a birth certificate or any single piece of identification is not enough to prove Constitutional eligibility.

So what is the Solution? In my opinion, we must address this problem systemically.  Which means we need our legislators, both state and federal to pass revised elections requirements and procedures for verifying Constitutional eligibility before a candidate can be placed on the ballot.

For example, there should be a federal law that requires the following:

All candidates must provide multiple forms of identification: birth certificate only (not certificate of live birth – COLB), social security card, voters registration card, state driver’s license or ID, proof of residence (loan papers, utility bills, etc.), immigration or naturalization documents — and two affidavits from family members, relatives or others stating that the candidate is who they say they are and that they attest (under penalty of perjury) that the candidate meets the constitutional requirements to hold the office they are running for.

In addition, the candidate must provide a self-attestation form which states that s/he meets the constitutional requirements for office.   I would also like to see the candidate’s self-attestation form include other questions. For example:

  • that the candidate has no criminal history is not currently engaged in any type of criminal activity or unfair business practices.
  • is not now or has never been an agent for any foreign government
  • is not now or never has been affiliated with any organization that is attempting to subvert or overthrow the federal government or any state government
  • that the candidate is an advocate for capitalism and free market principles
  • that the candidate does not now, never has been and does not intend to become affiliated with socialists, Marxists, fascists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists, progressives, para-military groups, etc. or any other anti-capitalist organizations.

To reform the federal election process, congress should enact federal laws outlining the above requirements and they should give the Federal Elections Commission and not nominating parties, such as the DNC or RNC, the responsibly for overseeing the entire candidate vetting process, which in my opinion should include:

  • homeland security and terrorist watch-list checks
  • fingerprinting and running fingerprints through AFIS
  • a complete criminal background check
  • an immigration check
  • a social security check
  • a state by state DMV check
  • a Selective Service check
  • a bank, investment, financial and IRS check
  • and whatever other checks that are needed

For candidates running for the office of President and Vice President, the candidate’s self-attestation form should require that the candidate also attests to the citizenship of his/her parents and indicates how long the parents have been United States citizens.  I also think that additional documentation regarding the parents should  be required. (I.e. birth certificate, immigration records, etc.) We should also require candidates to post this information on their campaign websites and allow the public to inspect these records.

In terms of what states should do, well, I believe they should also adopt legislation that mirrors the federal law. The only difference should be that the state’s Secretary of State office should have the responsibility of performing the above checks for all state, city, and county candidates.  Further, it should be required to contact federal agencies, departments, and state vital records offices for more information about the candidates.

I do not understand why we make it so easy for criminals, spies, and socialists to hold public office. Maybe if we address the systemic problems and finally change the system, We The People will have public servants who actually want to represent the best interests of their constituents.

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