Board extends hearing on Vermilion ballot challenge

Board extends hearing on Vermilion ballot challenge

DANVILLE — An independent candidate for Vermilion County Board pleaded to county officials during a hearing Tuesday that they delay for two weeks a hearing regarding objections filed against her candidacy.

Hau Swearingen, who filed as an independent candidate in county board District 9, said she's had difficulty finding an attorney to represent her and needs more time to look up records.

The three-member board was prepared to hear the case Tuesday morning in a Vermilion County Circuit Court room but decided to give Swearingen two more days to prepare rather than two weeks. Swearingen showed her frustration, raising her voice at times as she continually insisted on two more weeks, claiming the process is different in Champaign County, and at one point, demanding to know why.

"I think I did everything correct," said Swearingen, who claimed that she got notice of the hearing only this week.

Vermilion County Clerk Lynn Foster, a member of the three-member County Officers Electoral Board, explained that the panel could not afford a two-week delay, because there's a specific time line, per state statute, that must be followed in the election process. The general election is Nov. 6, and Foster said the ballot must be certified by the end of August, which means the electoral board must make a decision as to whether Swearingen's name should or should not be on the ballot by July 24 at the latest.

Swearingen filed as an independent candidate in the race for one of the three open seats in county board District 9. The only other candidates in District 9 are the three incumbents, Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon, Bruce Stark and Larry Davis, who are all Democrats.

Danville resident Louise Kain filed the objection to Swearingen's petitions. Her objection claims that some of the signatures are invalid and names and addresses don't match, among other discrepancies, and as a result, Swearingen's name should not appear on the ballot. Swearingen has more than 80 signatures on her petitions, and 45 are required. Prior to Tuesday's hearing, Foster said that on initial review of the petitions, it was apparent that they do contain some duplicate names and signatures.

Kain was being represented at Tuesday's hearing by Danville attorney Greg Lietz, who argued against any delay, even two days, due to the short time frame.

Despite the objections from Kain's attorney, the electoral board agreed to give two more days to Swearingen, who claims to have an attorney although no attorney accompanied her Tuesday morning, and none has made an official appearance on her behalf in the matter.

The hearing was rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 337, the jury assembly room, on the third floor of the Vermilion County Courthouse, 7 N. Vermilion St., Danville.

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