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Federal Court's Decision Keeps Independent Candidate off Ballot in Illinois

by Carl Wicklander, published

A U.S. Supreme Court decision last week will keep an independent candidate in Illinois off the November ballot.

The high court denied independent David Gill's request to vacate an order by a lower appeals court to leave him off the ballot in Illinois' 13th congressional district. The ruling effectively ends Gill's campaign.

The only two names that will appear on the November 8 ballot are Democrat Mark Wicklund and incumbent Republican Rodney Davis.

Gill previously filed a lawsuit to appear on the ballot, charging that the number of signatures necessary for an independent candidate to obtain is "severe and overly burdensome. As an independent, Gill needed at least 10,754 signatures compared to 740 for major party candidates.

Gill collected more than the required amount, but a review determined that approximately 8,500 of the signatures were valid. Gill was short by more than 2,000 valid signatures.

Part of Gill's issue is that the district includes towns where signature collectors may be unsure of the congressional borders. The Democratic candidate, Wicklund, challenged Gill's signatures in July partly on the grounds that several were from outside the district.

This year marked Gill's fifth campaign for Congress. He ran four times as a Democrat, but 2016 signified the first time he sought office as an independent. Gill narrowly lost in 2012 to current incumbent Rodney Davis.

Gill indicated he may run again in 2018. Acknowledging that the major parties essentially control elections, Gill conceded he may have to run as a Democrat again. Stating that the Constitution is "rendered virtually meaningless," he said:

"It may be that the only way to gain access to the ballot is by running in a primary of one of the major parties which require fewer than 740 signatures."

Illinois' 13th congressional district extends from the Mississippi River in the west to Bloomington in the north and east to Champaign. The district leans Republican and becomes more so with the exclusion of Gill. From Wall Street and health care, Gill's policy positions resemble those of Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Despite losing the ballot battle, Gill will continue his lawsuit against the burdensome signature threshold for independent candidates. "The overall lawsuit is probably more important than me being on ballot in 2016," Gill

said on Peoria public radio.

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