The synopsis of the Illinois House’s Equal Ballot Access Bill (HB2398) is “Amends the Election Code. Changes signature requirements for new political parties and independent candidates so the amounts are equal to those required for established political parties, irrespective of party affiliation.”
While the bill does narrow the ballot signature requirement inequality between established parties, new parties, and independents, it does not achieve equality. To attain that goal the Illinois Green Party (ILGP) recommends the following improvements.
1) For President, the bill’s proposed modified signature requirements for new parties and independents are still not equal to the established party signature requirements.
Established party Presidential candidates need 3,000 to 5,000 signatures (10 ILCS 5/7-11). This bill proposes new party presidential candidates will need 5,000 to 10,000 signatures.
The ILGP recommends that the signature requirement should be 3,000 to 5,000 for new party and independent presidential candidates, the same as established party presidential candidates.
2) For non state legislature offices in districts that are not statewide, the bill’s proposed signature requirements for new parties and independents are also still not equal to the established party signature requirements.
Established party candidates for non statewide partisan offices other than the state legislature need at least the number of signatures equal to 0.5% of the qualified primary electors of his or her party in his or her district (10 ILCS 5/7-10). 10 ILCS 5/7-10 defines the number of qualified primary electors as the number of voters that voted in the party’s last primary in that district.
This bill proposes that new political party and independent candidates for districts that are not statewide other than the state legislature need at least the number of signatures equal to 0.5% of the qualified voters in the district or political subdivision.
Note that the number of qualified voters in the district would be significantly more than the number of an established party’s qualified primary electors.
For example, if this bill was enacted into law and in affect for the 2020 election season, for the first Illinois Congressional District, the candidates would have needed the following minimum numbers of signatures:
- Democratic Party: 1,230
- Republican Party: 408
- New Party or Independent: 2,541 (13,276 currently without this bill enacted into law)
The ILGP recommends that the number of signatures required for new party and independent candidates for all partisan offices should be the same number of signatures required by the established party for the same office and district that has the highest signature requirement among all established parties.
If this recommended improvement was made in the above example, the new party and independent candidate would only need a minimum of 1,230 signatures.
The Illinois Green Party urges the Illinois House to pass HB2398 with the above recommended improvements.