Daniel P. Madden, the Legal Adviser to County Clerk David Orr, sent Evanston City Clerk Devon Reid a letter dated March 7, advising him to stop distributing “I Early Voted - Evanston Votes” stickers from a table immediately outside the Early Voting site at the Evanston Civic Center.

Mr. Madden said Mr. Reid was engaging in this activity in a statutorily-designated area outside the voting room which is under the control of the County Clerk, as the election authority of Cook County, and that Mr. Reid’s activity in the campaign-free zone is “unauthorized and improper.”

The letter also said Mr. Reid’s responsibility as a Local Election Official “is limited to registering voters, receiving petitions and certifying the ballot. It is not a position that has any election management responsibility.”  

The letter continued, “We know that as a public official, you are committed to an orderly election process that includes respecting the rules and the authority of those given the responsibility for administering these rules.

“We do appreciate your well-intended effort here to encourage voting and urge you to do so outside of the campaign free zone.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Clerk Reid:

It has come to our attention that you have been distributing “I Early Voted - Evanston Votes” stickers from a table immediately outside the Early Voting site at the Evanston Civic Center. The statutorily-designated area outside the voting room is under the control of the County Clerk, as the election authority of Cook County. In light of that, your activity in this respect is unauthorized and improper.

You are instructed to cease and desist this activity within the campaign-free zone around the Early Voting site at the Evanston Civic Center. 

Your status as a Local Election Official is in no way related to the conduct of Early Voting. The responsibility of a Local Election Official, such as a municipal or township clerk or a school district secretary, is limited to registering voters, receiving petitions and certifying the ballot. It is not a position that has any election management responsibility.

The City of Evanston is required by law to make its public buildings available for Early Voting and once that is done, the Cook County Clerk’s office has the inherent responsibility and authority to control the space within the polling place and in the adjacent campaign-free zone. 

Distributing any materials relating to early voting inside of the campaign-free zone blurs the line between what is acceptable and what is not. It is not practicable for us to vet materials at a multitude of sites to assure that they all pass legal muster. It is better for voters, for candidates and for the public at large to keep the campaign-free zone completely free of any such distributions. This is even more important when there is a public official, or past or future candidate, involved.

We know that as a public official, you are committed to an orderly election process that includes respecting the rules and the authority of those given the responsibility for administering these rules.

We do appreciate your well-intended effort here to encourage voting and urge you to do so outside of the campaign free zone.

I look forward to your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Daniel P. Madden

Legal Advisor to the County Clerk