Recently, the Illinois State Board of Elections issued important rulings concerning third-party ballot access and electoral reform in the November elections.
For Illinois, a state already synonymous with political corruption, the decisions represent setbacks for both the option of additional choices on the ballot and a means for limiting legislators' terms.The Illinois Libertarian Party survived and will appear on the ballot, but the Constitution Party, Green Party, and the
term limit initiative associated with GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner did not.
"Non-established parties," those that earned less than 5 percent in the preceding election cycle, must collect at least 25,000 valid signatures to have a chance to appear on the November ballot. By contrast, the Republican and Democratic parties only need to submit 5,000 signatures.
In 2006, the Green Party garnered over 10 percent in the gubernatorial race, but fell to around 3 percent in 2010 and had only about 22,000 valid signatures. A lawyer for the Green Party said, "The whole system needs to be revised."
The Constitution Party (CP) of Illinois, which faced similar setbacks in 2010, is off the November ballot for the second cycle in a row.
Party Chairman Randall Stufflebeam, who was also the CP gubernatorial candidate in 2006, expressed his outrage:
"The Republican Party has once again successfully ensured that real conservatives will not be on the November ballot to compete in the General Election this year (as they did in 2010). Illinois voters should be incensed by this constant unconstitutional elimination of competition."
The statement went on to argue that according to the state constitution:
"Article 3, Section 3 - ELECTIONS states: 'All elections shall be free and equal.' Further, Article 3, Section 4 of the Illinois State Constitution - ELECTION LAWS - states: 'Laws governing voter registration and conduct of elections shall be general and uniform.'"
On the other hand, the Libertarian Party and gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm were allowed ballot access and will be the only alternative on the ballot against Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.
In the Chicago Tribune, veteran political reporter Rick Pearson wrote about how the board's decisions may impact the gubernatorial race:
"In a close race, those decisions could help Quinn, who as a Democrat was more likely to lose votes to a Green Party candidate, and hurt Rauner, who as a Republican is more likely to lose votes to a Libertarian candidate."
Also defeated was a term limit referendum supported by Rauner. The GOP choice for governor expressed defiance at the ruling, but suggested that he had optimism for ultimate success in November, saying, "The Springfield career politicians won today, and the people of Illinois lost. But the people will have the final say."