By Dave Dahl
SPRINGFIELD – With all the people and cars at a Springfield strip mall Monday morning, you would have thought Chuck E. Cheese was offering breakfast, or that there was a run on title loans.
Neither would be correct. The shopping center houses the Illinois State Board of Elections, where candidates must turn in their petitions for the June 28 primary election.
In an odd custom in Illinois politics, everybody in line at 8 a.m. the first day to file is eligible for a lottery this month to determine who will be atop the ballot. Filing runs through next Monday, and those who file in the final hour (between 4 and 5 p.m. March 14) are in a lottery for the final spot on the ballot.
In another Illinois quirk, that lottery March 23 is conducted by pulling Illinois Lottery ping pong balls out of a wooden box.
“We slept, we talked, we congregated, we fellowshipped, we prayed, we laughed,” said Peggy Hubbard, the first among firsts, who said she got to the election board office Friday.
“We had a good time.”
Hubbard is a Republican from Belleville and a candidate for U.S. Senate.
Election board spokesman Matt Dietrich said there could have been 500 or more people in line. Certainly extending past Chuck E. Cheese.
Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected]