SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura spearheaded an initiative through the Senate that would deem nomination papers invalid should the candidate be found to have engaged in fraud.

“To keep our elections free of fraud and hold nominees to the highest standard, we must continuously set checks and balances so our electoral and nomination processes retain their integrity,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “If a candidate is found to have personally engaged in any fraudulent behavior, their nomination papers must be deemed invalid. We need honest candidates and legislators.”

Under Senate Bill 497, a candidate’s nomination papers would be deemed invalid and the candidate's name would not appear on the ballot if the candidate is found to have personally engaged in material fraud or a pattern of fraud in connection with the signatures on the nominating papers, or false swearing of nominating papers. The initiative would specifically come into play when the State Electoral Board has a hearing on an objection to a petition.

“We need complete transparency when it comes to elections and must weed out bad actors,” said Ventura. “I will continue to prioritize the integrity of our elections and the electoral process by any means necessary as our democracy depends on fair and just elections.”

Senate Bill 497 passed the Senate on Thursday and heads to the House for further consideration.