MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - It's not your typical political debate. The difference between staples and paper clips has become a hot-button issue in Jackson County.
"It's one of the few issues that's considered fatal in campaign filing," said Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt. "In essence the law says if these are not permanently bound the candidates will not be allowed on the ballot."
That is why four republican candidates won't be on the ballot in November. The Jackson County Electoral Board said paper clips on the candidates' filing papers weren't permanent enough.
"After filing, these are public documents. Any member of the public who wishes can come in and view them or handle them," Reinhardt said. "The thought is, if they're not permanently bound, anyone who wishes could come in and add sheets if the candidate doesn't have enough, or remove sheets so the candidate wouldn't have enough signatures."
"A staple is just as easy to remove as a paper clip," said Christine Ward-Osinga who is among the four Republican would-be candidates who won't be allowed on the ballot.
"You'd think the county clerk, during an important election year, if they have a rule that says they need to be stapled, they'd say 'hey, you need to staple that," said Bill Burke, a republican who planned to run for a seat on the County Board.
Reinhardt says his office does not have the authority to correct a candidate's filings.
"We take the documents they provide and go with them," said Reinhardt. "If there are no objections, it doesn't matter how the document is for the most part."
But in the case of the four republican challengers, there were objections.
"On my paperwork the objectors were Christine Porritt and DeWitt McGriff," said Ward-Osinga. "On several of the candidates, the objectioners admitted they had never reviewed the nominating paperwork."
So the would-be candidates think may have more to do with politics than paper clips.
"It's easier to run against no one than to run against a viable candidate that wants to talk issues and not paper clips," said republican would-be state's attorney candidate Sharee Langenstein.
That's why the group has filed an appeal. A judge will decide whether the four should be on the ballot.
"We're not off the ticket yet," Burke said.
"I'm confident in the legal process, I'm confident we'll be able to give voters a choice," said Langenstein.
Reinhardt says he's confident staples will prevail and the judge will uphold the electoral board's decision.
"I'm very confident on the binding requirement. That's gone all the way to the Supreme Court," said Reinhardt.
A judge will review the case on August 6. It's unclear at this time which judge will preside.
If the judge upholds the electoral board's decision the candidates' only option will be to re-file and run as write-in candidates.