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Third Parties in Illinois Fight Uphill Battle to Become Established Parties

by AJ Segneri, published

29,707. That is the number of signatures collected to get gubernatorial candidate Scott Summers onto the general election ballot in Illinois as the Green Party candidate. Around 40,000 signatures were collected to get Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm onto the ballot as well.

Why does this matter? Because in Illinois a “new party” needs to get 25,000 signatures, minimum, in order to gain access to the ballot.

To better understand this, it is important to know the difference between “established party” and “new party.”

To be an “established party” in Illinois, the party's gubernatorial candidates of that election year needs to garner 5 percent of the general election vote. If a gubernatorial candidate gains less that 5 percent, that candidate's party is considered a “new party.”

That is why the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are considered “established parties,” because they don't have to worry about getting 5 percent each election year. Parties like the Greens, Libertarians, Socialists, Constitution, and others are considered a “new party” because they struggle to reach this threshold.

A major benefit of getting 5 percent, or better, in an election is that the party won't have to get as many signatures in the next statewide election.

In 2006, Rich Whitney ran for governor as a Green Party candidate and received 10.3 percent of the general election vote. This was a huge victory for the Illinois Green Party. However, in 2010, Whitney ran again for governor and only received 2.7 percent of the vote. The party's status was changed from "establishment party" to "new party" once again.

So why is it that we are taught in school that anyone can run for office? It seems like this is only true as long as everyone runs as a Democrat or a Republican.

This is one reason why politicians that are Democrat or Republican get elected year in and year out. If voters are tired of either major party then they should consider looking at alternative minor parties. Things are not likely to change, however, until the broken ballot access system in Illinois is fixed.

Photo Source: CBS Chicago

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