LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted December 27, 2019
As we enter a new year, a new decade and yet another election cycle, the ongoing question from fed-up voters keep ringing in my mind: “Why don’t we have other candidates running for office? These candidates on the ballot are awful!”
It’s an easy and difficult question to answer, so allow me to break the response into two parts:
Easy response: Democrats and Republicans in Springfield set the thresholds for ballot access regarding all partisan political races from statewide all the way down to the township level. The thresholds they set almost 90 years ago have been preferential treatment toward both parties, while they set ridiculous amounts for anyone unaffiliated with the political duopoly to run for office.
Difficult response: The two-party system hates competition and does everything they can to keep new party and independent candidates from getting on the ballot. Depending on the particular political race – and often the county – a new party or independent candidate is forced to collect anywhere from three to 150 times the minimum threshold for Democrats and Republicans. Take, for instance, our statewide races. Democrats and Republicans only have to file a minimum of 5,000 signatures. If you’re a Libertarian, Green, Constitution or other party candidate, or if you’re an independent, you have to collect a minimum of five times that threshold and then submit double that to survive a challenge (usually instigated by the Illinois GOP).
Since 2013, state legislators have introduced legislation creating for an even playing field, regardless of political party, starting with state Sen. Andy Manar with Senate Bill 1624. Former Sen. Kyle McCarter and Rep. Allen Skillicorn introduced companion bills in the previous General Assembly. In this current Assembly, two House bills with the same goal – making the petitioning threshold the same for all political races, regardless of political party – in the form of House Bills 3535 (Stava-Murray/Ammons) and 3828 (Skillicorn/Welter/Carroll) have been brought forth.
It’s overdue time to change yet another outdated election law. Three previous election laws have been struck down in Federal court against former Attorney General Lisa Madigan and with no legislative action, the ballot access petitioning threshold could end up in the courts as well.
Contact your legislators to have them look at the bills and ask for their support:
Sen. Andy Manar SD48 (217) 785-0228/(618) 585-4848
Rep. Avery Bourne HD95 (217) 782-8071/(217) 324-5200
Rep. Sue Scherer HD96 (217) 524-0353/(217) 877-9636
Chapter Chairman, Tri-Counties Libertarian Party
Political Director, Libertarian Party of Illinois