50% Plus One
4:07 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Judge Rules in Favor of Wailand

Two months after Macomb’s general election, a judge has ruled Steve Wailand edged Kay Hill, 17 to 16, in the contest for second ward alderman.

Steve Wailand and attorney Diane Cohen
Steve Wailand and attorney Diane Cohen
Credit Rich Egger

The city and county had argued Wailand failed to meet a threshold of 50% of the vote plus one in the February 26 balloting, and that there should be a run-off election.

It is not logical to have a person receive more than 50 percent of the vote but yet, not be the winner.

But Wailand filed suit after Tri States Public Radio reported on March 13 that city code makes no mention of 50% plus one. The code simply requires candidates to receive a majority of the votes. It does not define “majority.”

In his written ruling, Judge Rodney Clark said “majority” means more than half. He said the city failed to prove its belief that majority had been defined as “50% plus one.”

Clark also wrote, “It is not logical to have a person receive more than 50 percent of the vote but yet, not be the winner. This is not how America decides who should be elected.”

Read a .pdf of the ruling here

Wailand, who is a junior at Western Illinois University, received pro bono legal representation from the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center. Attorney Diane Cohen said, "This is not just about a word. It's not just about a definition. It really does go to the heart of what our constitution stands for."

Winners of the Macomb city council elections will be sworn into office May 6.