(a) On and after the effective date of this article, no correctional officer covered by the provisions of this article shall engage in any political activity of any kind, character or nature whatsoever, except to cast his vote at any election or shall act as an election official in any municipal, county or state election. Any correctional officer violating the provisions of this section shall have his appointment vacated and he shall be removed, in accordance with the pertinent provisions of this section.
(b) Any three residents of the county may file their written petition with the civil service commission thereof setting out therein the grounds upon which a correctional officer of such county should be removed for a violation of subsection (a) of this section. Notice of the filing of such petition shall be given by the commission to the accused correctional officer, which notice shall require him to file a written answer to the charges set out in the petition within thirty days of the date of such notice. The petition and answer thereto, if any, shall be entered upon the records of the civil service commission. If the answer is not filed within the time stated, or any extension thereof for cause which in the discretion of the civil service commission may be granted, an order shall be entered by the commission declaring the appointment of the correctional officer vacated. If such answer is filed within the time stated, or any extension thereof for cause which in the discretion of the civil service commission may be granted, the accused correctional officer may demand within such period a public hearing on the charges, or the civil service commission may, in its discretion and without demand therefor, set a date and time for a public hearing on the charges which hearing shall be within thirty days of the filing of said answer, subject, however, to any continuances which may in the discretion of the civil service commission be granted. A written record of all testimony taken at such hearing shall be kept and preserved by the civil service commission, which record shall be sealed and not be open to public inspection if no appeal be taken from the action of the commission. The commission at the conclusion of the hearing, or as soon thereafter as possible, shall enter an order sustaining in whole or in part the charges made, or shall dismiss the charges as unfounded. In the event that charges are sustained in whole or in part, the order shall also declare the appointment of such correctional officer to be vacated and thereupon the sheriff shall immediately remove the correctional officer from his office and from the payroll of the county. Notice of the action of the commission shall be given by registered letter to the county commission and the sheriff. If the sheriff fails to immediately comply with the order of the commission, he shall be punished for contempt, upon application of the commission to the circuit court of the county.
(c) An appeal from the ruling of the commission may be had in the same manner and within the same time as specified in section seventeen of this article for an appeal from a ruling of a commission after hearing held in accordance with the provisions of said section seventeen.