I noted a couple months ago that I believed that Rahm Emanuel would have “no problem” winning the case challenging his residency in Chicago. It’s looking like I was correct.
It’s unfortunate for Mr. Emanuel, and the electoral process in general, that this case had to go this far. The hearing officer’s decision reflects the broad consensus of election law experts in Illinois. A modicum of work by the media could have presented a more accurate presentation of the law in this issue. Instead, they used most of their ink citing Burt Odelson, who was clearly biased.
The opinion as issued makes an excellent case that the key element here was whether Emanuel had an intent to return. He clearly did as anyone with any sense could see. While helpful to Emanuel, the fact that he was a federal employee was not necessary for him to make the case that he was a resident for that time period.
This case is relevant in Champaign County as we often have faculty who leave the county for extended periods of time. As I stated before, I think it’s clear that they do not give up their residency.
Unaddressed by Morris was the legal question of whether the definition of “residence” in the Election Code, for purposes of voting, is different than the definition of residence for the purposes of running for office. I believe this is settled, which is probably why Morris didn’t address it. I’d cite the Baumgartner decision in particular.
Both parties have submitted differing usages of the term “residence.” However, because eligibility to run for office is closely linked to the ability to vote within a particular jurisdiction, we will use the definition of “residence” as used within the Election Code for voter registration.
Expect an appeal on this issue, if for no other reason than the attorneys challenging Emanuel seem more interested in publicity than in offering up sound legal analysis.