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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

What Happens To Empty Seats In Local Elections?

Flickr user Brendan C / "Local Election Ballot" (CC BY 2.0)

Local elections are being held today throughout Illinois. Some races are contested and some uncontested, but others have no candidates on the ballot.

What happens then? 

More than 115 seats out of about 1,600 races in 19 northern Illinois counties do not have registered candidates.

That's about seven percent of all the seats up for grabs in this election. Those seats include Education Service Region trustees within Boone and Winnebago Counties and the Village President seat in Campus.

Ken Menzel is Deputy General Counsel for the State Board of Elections. He says if an office is vacant for whatever reason -- whether it's because no one was elected or someone vacated the position -- then the local government in question would have to follow something called the 28-month rule.

"If a term has more than 28 months to go and it's more than 130 days before the election when the vacancy occurs, the person is only appointed to fill that seat until the middle of the term's election," Menzel said. "And then someone's elected to fill the remaining two years of that term at the end."

Let's say a mayoral seat remains vacant after today's local elections. Menzel says the town aldermen or the village board would appoint someone to fill that position.

Menzel says townships are the only ones that don't follow the 28-month rule. He says they just appoint someone for the remainder of the term.

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