Like New Hampshire, Illinois Electoral Board finds it has jurisdiction to review Ted Cruz's eligibility

Recently, the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission concluded that it was statutorily authorized to hear a challenge to Ted Cruz's eligibility to appear on the ballot on the basis that he was not a "natural born citizen," and it concluded that he met that standard--or, at least, that there was no "obvious defect" calling for his removal.

Yesterday, the Illinois State Board of Elections heard a pair of challenges (PDF) to Mr. Cruz's eligibility., Joyce v. Cruz and Graham v. Cruz. (Mr. Graham also challenged Marco Rubio's eligibility.) A hearing officer concluded that the State Board of Elections had jurisdiction beyond simply ascertaining whether the paperwork complied with the Election Code, and did have the jurisdiction to review whether Mr. Cruz was a "natural born citizen." Further, it concluded that eligibility questions were appropriately within the scope of authority of the Electoral Board. Finally, it concluded that Mr. Cruz met the "natural born citizen" qualification. The Board adopted these findings.

Illinois law requires that candidates file a "Statement of Candidacy," including a statement that one is "qualified" for office. The Electoral Board is tasked with making sure that the papers are "valid" or in "proper form." Mr. Cruz contended that such power means that the Electoral Board lacks jurisdiction to hear a question regarding qualifications. The Board decided otherwise: "It is alleged that Ted Cruz is not legally qualified because he is not a natural born citizen. Thus, the Statement of Candidacy is properly before the Electoral Board to determine if the Candidate is a natural born citizen."

As I've written extensively, state agencies should be reluctant to assume such power absent rather clear authorization from the state legislature. But, like New Hampshire's election commission, this board assumed it did have the power.

Mr. Cruz also objected that the Electoral College, not a state agency, has the power to review qualifications. The Electoral Board rejected this argument, too. In the words of the Hearing Officer: "I disagree with the Candidate's assertion. The Statement of Candidacy is being questioned by the Objector. In order to determine the validity of the Statement of Candidacy, the threshold question of whether or not Ted Cruz is a natural born citizen must be addressed. Thus, the Electoral Board does have subject matter jurisdiction . . . ."

The Board went on to conclude that Mr. Cruz was eligible at birth.