The slate is filled with slimy candidates. Illinois is urging residents to go onto the Internet to elect the official state reptile and amphibian. "Finally, an election where there's...

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CHICAGO — The slate is filled with slimy candidates.

Illinois is urging residents to go onto the Internet to elect the official state reptile and amphibian.

“Finally, an election where there’s no mud-slinging,” Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. “Maybe our human candidates should try living in the mud for a while.”

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Quinn and state Rep. Bob Biggins — who worked with the Chicago Herpetological Society and the Brookfield Zoo — thought holding a mock election might help highlight the role these creatures play in Illinois’ ecosystem.

The Eastern tiger salamander is leading the amphibian pack, followed by the gray tree frog and the American toad. Zoo officials say the race is close, with the painted turtle and the garden-variety garter snake coming in neck-and-neck, followed by the Eastern box turtle.

“It’s sort of appropriate that we’d have an official reptile, given how much corruption happens in this state,” said Kelly Killian, 32, a graduate student who was told about the runoff while she was buying a cup of coffee. “At least this is something to do with snakes that we can all support.”

The Illinois Board of Elections said it won’t certify the results because this is a mock election: Voters don’t have to show proof of residency — just type in a home ZIP code — and theoretically could vote more than once. Election officials, however, say they support any effort to persuade the public to vote.

Since ballots were posted on the Web sites of the lieutenant governor (www.state.il.us/ltgov/ and the zoo (www.brookfieldzoo.org) this fall, more than 56,000 people have cast votes.

When the voting ends at midnight tomorrow, the ballots will be tallied and the winning species will be brought before the state Legislature when it convenes in January.

The legislators will decide whether to add the creatures to a list of the state’s existing 17 symbols, which includes the official snack food (popcorn), flower (native violet) and prairie grass (Blue Bigstem).

Many states have selected creatures for such honors. California named the desert tortoise as its official reptile in 1972, while Louisiana tapped the green tree frog as its amphibian in 1993.

Washington state has an official bird (willow goldfinch), fish (steelhead trout), insect (green darner dragonfly), even fossil (Columbian mammoth), but no reptile.

Washington state’s official creatures were provided by Seattle Times staff.