Effingham Daily News
A recent election law change is saving school districts from having to keep their doors open on Christmas Eve.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Sunday that gives candidates more time to file petitions for the April 9, 2013, consolidated election while at the same time giving local governments more flexibility to accept them. Previously, secretary and clerk offices were required to stay open until 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the final date to file petitions. The change allows those offices to close that day, and candidates now have until 5 p.m. Dec. 26 to file petitions.
The holiday has not interfered with the filing period in the past. In the last consolidated election in 2010, the filing period began Dec. 13 and ended Dec. 20.
“It never was an issue before,” said Altamont Unit 10 Superintendent Jeff Fritchtnitch.
The unit office, where the petitions are filed, is open on Christmas Eve but closes early.
“It would have been a burden, but we had a plan in the event it didn’t change,” said Fritchtnitch.
Teutopolis Unit 50 Superintendent Bill Fritcher lobbied for the change after realizing the previous final filing date would cause an added expense for his district.
“We would have had to pay someone time and a half,” he said, adding Dec. 24 and 31 are paid holidays for employees.
The Effingham Unit 40 office is normally closed on Christmas Eve, so the change “worked out well for everybody,” said Executive Secretary Penny Wiedman.
Wiedman also didn’t expect any filings that day.
“People usually come in the first couple of days. I don’t think I got any the last day,” she said of the last election cycle.
The filing dates this year mostly affect local school board candidates as municipal elections will not take place until 2015.
Like local school secretaries, Effingham County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel is thankful he won’t have to come into work on Dec. 24.
Although countywide elections are over, candidates for the spring election must file a statement of economic interest with his office before filing their petitions, stating they have no monetary interest in the government body for which they’re filing. While the county clerk’s office is normally closed on Christmas Eve, Hirtzel said the office will have to remain open an hour later than its 4 p.m. closing time on Dec. 26, a day Hirtzel is scheduled to have off.
“It just means I will have to come in and work for an hour,” he said.
Cathy Thoele may be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.