SYCAMORE – Candidates lined up Monday morning at the DeKalb County Administration Building hoping their name will be at the top of a ballot in March.
About 10 people were waiting outside the office at 8:30 a.m. when Doug Johnson, DeKalb County clerk and recorder, welcomed the candidates in.
The county circuit clerk, coroner, state’s attorney, and half of the County Board seats are on the ballot in the general election in November 2020. Candidates filed Monday for the March 17 primary election.
People who showed up early were there for a reason.
“If you’re the first one here, and there are two people running for that position in the same party, your name is the first one on the ballot,” Johnson said.
He said if the candidates show up at the same time, the office staff will hold a lottery to decide who is first.
The thought is that those who show up at the start or the end of the ballot have a distinct advantage over the candidates in the middle of the list.
The turnout was lower than some expected.
Mary Lynn Meisch, chief deputy clerk for DeKalb County, said she was surprised, because the line is usually longer. She estimated that for the last primary, there were about twice the number of candidates as there were Monday. She said the last day to file is Dec. 2.
Karen Cribben, R-District 11, is running for reelection to the County Board and was one of the people to show up when Johnson opened the doors. She took office in August.
“I want to represent my district the best that I can,” Cribben said.
Rick Amato, running to keep his job as DeKalb County state’s attorney, was another candidate who showed up to file his petition.
He said he’s proud of the work he and his staff have accomplished in his first three years as state’s attorney.
Lynne Kunde, electoral judge coordinator for the county, said the number of candidates filing their election petitions was surprising.
“It’s not as many as we were expecting,” Kunde said. But, she added, the filing period doesn’t end until 5 p.m. Dec. 2.
She also expected candidates to trickle in by the rest of the first filing day.
There is plenty of time for other candidates to add their name to the ballot.
“Those who have not completed their paperwork still have the weekend to get signatures,” Meisch said.
The signature requirements for a county office requires at least 0.5% of the vote cast for any candidate of the party who received the highest number of votes in the county at the last general election, according to state statute. The highest vote-getter could be any federal, state or county candidate.
This year, candidates need a minimum of 138 signatures to get onto the ballot.
The signature requirements for a County Board member requires at least 0.5% of the number of primary electors of the candidate’s party in the district who cast votes at the last general election, according to state statute. The highest vote getter could be any federal, state or county candidate.
County Board candidates need anywhere between seven and 14 signatures to get on the ballot.
Not all the signatures may count, however, if an opponent wants to challenge them.
Johnson said if a candidate wants to challenge the legitimacy of the number of signatures another candidate received, he or she can, but the candidate must follow a process. The challenging candidate has to file an objection and state his or her reasons for the objection, which are then heard by an electoral board. The board then makes a decision.
The countywide positions are challenged in Sycamore.
Any candidate who wants to challenge has until Dec. 9 – one week after the election filing deadline – to do so.
Johnson said he wasn’t really surprised by the lack of candidates who filed Monday morning. It varies every year, and he thinks some don’t believe there’s much of a challenge, which lessens the pressure to be the first to file.
“If you aren’t going to have an opponent in the primary, it doesn’t matter if you’re here early or not,” Johnson said.