State rep candidate voted in Illinois and Wisconsin

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Republican Kathy Myalls is urging voters to elect her to a seat in the Illinois State Legislature.

But will she vote for herself?

It’s a fair question, since records show Myalls has voted in both Illinois and Wisconsin in recent years.

In one case, she cast a vote in a primary election in Illinois. Then just three months later, records show she voted in Wisconsin to cast a ballot in the state’s recall election. The effort was aimed largely at recalling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — someone with whom Myalls is pictured on her Facebook page. Myalls then voted in Wisconsin’s presidential general election in 2012 before returning to Illinois to vote the following spring.

When asked about her vote in the Walker recall, Myalls said in a phone interview:

“No. I don’t think I did,” she said. “I don’t think they canceled my registration up in Fontana. And that may be what you’re seeing. They didn’t automatically cancel it.”

Illinois voting records show that Myalls has been registered to vote from her Wilmette address from 2005 to the present. By her own admission, Myalls was registered to vote in a second home located in Fontana, Wisconsin, since 1996. Records show she voted in separate elections in both states in 2008 and 2012.

“This situation is improper,” said Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr.“If we had known that she had voted in another state, we would have canceled her registration.”

Greve stopped short of saying the practice violated law, saying residency questions become murky. If someone votes at two different locations in the same election, that is a clear violation of law, but records do not reflect that happening in Myalls’ case.

“I was registered to vote in WI from 1996-2013,” Myalls wrote in a follow-up email to the Sun-Times. “My voting registration in WI was based on a house we own and have lived in during that time period. I am now only registered to vote in IL and I no longer vote in WI.”

However, Myalls’ voting history raises questions about her eligibility to servethe office she is seeking. The state constitution says a person is eligible to serve as a member of the General Assembly if he or she is a U.S. citizen, is at least 21 and has lived in the district that he or she is to represent for two years preceding the election.

It appears the issue didn’t escape the House Republican Organization, the grouptrying to win back Illinois House seats from Democrats in Illinois.

“She’s legally qualified to run for office based on residency things we looked at. If she’s afforded the opportunity to become elected, at that time that will be two years,” said Joe Woodward, political director with the House Republican Organization. Woodward indicated HRO’s legal team had been consulted on her issues. “All I will say is this is political. The opposition had time to look at this and that time has passed and they were asleep at the switch. She passes our legal requirements.”

Myalls voted in Wisconsin’s presidential election on Nov. 6, 2012. This year’s election is Nov. 4 — seeming to fall just short of the full two years.

The time for an opponent to challenge Myalls’ candidacy has passed, said Ken Menzel, Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

If Myalls is elected in November, only the General Assembly can challenge seating her, Menzel said.

“You’re supposed to be registered and voting from the place from where you’re actually residing,” Menzel said. “You’re kind of picking your one true home.”

Myalls is hoping to unseat Democratic state Rep. Laura Fine in the 17th district, which is made up of North Shore area communities. The seat is not among those Republicans have targeted in their efforts to pull themselves out of the super-minority in the Illinois House, a source said.

“Where a voter is registered and whether a voter is properly registered depends on voter intent — is this the place they intend to live at the time of the election?” said Reid Magney, public information officer with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. “The person can change their mind about where they intend to live. Questions about whether or not someone is properly registered really have to be examined on a case by case basis by district attorney, in the event there was a complaint.”

Illinois and Wisconsin do not share voter identification information. Illinois does share voter identification information with some states through data-sharing projects, but Wisconsin is not a member of any of the projects.

Jay DeLancy, Director of the Voter Integrity Project-North Carolina, an election watchdog group, said it’s difficult to prosecute someone who has voted in two different states — unless it’s in the same election.

“The problem is the law, the key word is ‘intent.’ All the perp has to do is say, ‘I intended to stay in Wisconsin but then I got a job offer in Illinois and moved back,’ DeLancy said. “We’ve been told before: Unless it’s the very same election, we’re not going to prosecute them.”

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