Letter to Governor Pritzker Regarding Ballot Access and COVID-19

Dear Governor Pritzker, President Harmon, Speaker Madigan, and Director Sandvoss,

For months, the Green Party has been preparing for the start of the petitioning period applicable to “new” political parties, which begins on March 24, 2020, and ends on June 22, 2020. The Illinois Green Party has held its nominating convention and has nominated Green Party candidates for the 2020 Illinois statewide ballot. (Under the Election Code, the Green Party was not eligible to participate in the state's Primary Election this year for statewide offices.)

The Green Party has successfully completed Illinois statewide petition drives in the recent past (including 2012 and 2016), and we are confident that, without the recent turn of events involving COVID-19, we would have successfully completed the petition drive this year as well.

According to current state law, a new political party must file 25,000 valid petition signatures to get ballot access for this year's Illinois statewide General Election ballot.  Experience teaches us (and other electoral candidates) that it is wise to gather twice the number of required signatures, in order to account for problems with voter registrations. Given past response rates, this would translate into well over half a million public contacts.

However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the Governor's responsive Executive Orders, as well as the national state of emergency, local restrictions, and related health-care protocols regarding social distancing, the Green Party's ability to obtain the necessary signatures here in Illinois this year has been essentially nullified. We acknowledge that the actions taken to limit gatherings and ensure social distancing are appropriate for containing and controlling the virus, but they also make it literally impossible for the candidates of minority political parties, as well as independent candidates, to be placed on the general election ballot.

Current circumstances make petitioning extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the party and its candidates, as well as make it risky, health-wise, for the petitioners and the potential signers. 

Any efforts at gathering enough signatures for the statewide ballot depend on face-to-face contact with as many potential petition signers as possible, and large crowds—now banned by law—normally provide the primary source for signers. Even where registered voters may be found in smaller gatherings, or may be passing by on a sidewalk, current health-care protocols advising that a distance of at least six feet be maintained between unfamiliar persons make petitioning all but impossible.

Moreover, few people remaining in the security of their homes are likely to open their doors to petitioners in this environment, let alone agree to have a close conversation and handle a clipboard and pen being handed to them by a stranger. Likewise, most prospective petitioners, including the many volunteers who have assisted us in the past, are understandably going to be reluctant to handle a clipboard and pen that has passed through the hands, and within close proximity of the nose and mouth, of large numbers of unknown persons.

Accordingly, we respectfully request that the Governor, General Assembly, and the Board of Elections take account of these radically changed circumstances and take immediate emergency action to honor the right of our political party and its candidates for President, Vice President, and U.S. Senate to appear on the general election ballot.

We ask that the petition signature requirement for the statewide ballot be waived or suspended for the current election cycle for the Illinois Green Party’s statewide candidates. We understand that the Libertarian Party of Illinois may be making a similar request and we would be supportive of that party being granted a waiver as well.

We would also ask for similar relief for Green Party candidates planning to petition to attain ballot status in county-level races in Jackson County, Illinois.

We can be contacted expeditiously at chair@ilgp.org. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.



Rich Whitney

Sheldon Schaefer

Co-Chairs, Illinois Green Party

ALERT: Widespread Voter Suppression throughout Illinois

Green Party and other third party voters across Illinois have their vote suppressed for this 2020 Primary Election. Once again, when third party voters arrive at their polling place they will not be able to choose a ballot for their party. If there are no referendum questions, there will not even be a non-partisan ballot available to them.

Ever wonder why that is? Let's take the Green Party's 2020 Presidential race as an example.

Due to the most unfair voter suppression laws in the country passed jointly by the Illinois Democratic and Republican Party controlled Illinois legislature to suppress the vote of third party and independent voters, the Illinois Green Party needs 50,000 signatures statewide for our Presidential candidate just to get on the November ballot. As a result of this blatant abuse of power by the Two Party Tyranny, the law only requires Democratic and Republican Party candidates to get a maximum of 5,000 signatures. Yes you read that right. That's 45,000 less signatures needed by the corporate controlled candidate!

How do these undemocratic signature requirement disparities impact the “non-established” third party candidate?  In normal times, when the country is not experiencing a national emergency due to a pandemic, it takes about one hour of a volunteer’s time to collect 10 signatures, so collecting 5,000 signatures requires about 500 volunteer hours whereas collecting 50,000 signatures requires about 5,000 volunteer hours.

This results in the Green Party Presidential campaign having to work 4,500 more hours than the corporate party campaign to get on the ballot when we are not experiencing a pandemic! Under this pandemic, the reader must appreciate the impossibility of dealing with these grossly unfair requirements.

The reason we need 50,000 signatures is because if we only turn in the minimum number of signatures (25,000) the Democratic Party will file an objection to our ballot petition filing and hire lawyers, paid for by their wealthy donors, to attempt to throw us off the ballot.

This extremely undemocratic signature requirement disparity is also imposed on independent candidates.

Alternatively political parties sometimes pay petitioners to collect signatures for one to three dollars per signature. Since the Green Party does not accept big money special interest campaign contributions, it’s very difficult to raise the $50,000-$150,000 it would take to pay petitioners for a Presidential race just in Illinois.

And we only have 90 days to collect signatures in snow, rain, or sunshine!

Note that these extremely unfair signature requirement disparities have been passed into law for all partisan offices in Illinois, by the two party tyranny, ranging from ratios of 5 to 1 to sometimes more than 10 to 1. These partisan races range from County Board all the way to President of the United States.

These voter suppression laws are not new. As a result, in Illinois, for many years running, there has been a dearth of candidates, with nearly all Primary Elections uncontested and almost every General Election being uncontested or merely between the two established parties. Since the 2011 redistricting, in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 Primary Elections for State Representative, 82.6%, 87.3%, and 89.4% of the races had no candidate or only one candidate on the ballot. In the 2012, 2014, and 2016 General Elections for State Representative, 58.5%, 63.6%, and 59.3% were uncontested. In only 1 of those 354 elections did more than two candidates appear on the ballot–in other words, the ballot was limited to one or both of the two party tyrants in 99.7% of the elections.

And it gets worse.

For a third party to be allowed in the Illinois Primary Election and have the same signature requirements for their candidates as the two party tyranny, their party would need to have received at least 5% of the vote in the last General Election for that same office.

If a third party or independent candidate manages to get past these incredible barriers and get on the ballot, it is extremely difficult to get 5% of the vote, due to the lack of the following reforms:

  • - Publicly financed elections (to get big money special interests out of our elections)
  • - Ranked Choice Voting (to eliminate the "spoiler effect" and let people vote their hopes without fear)
  • - Inclusion of all candidates on the ballot in debates and media coverage
  • - Fairly drawn district maps (so voters choose their candidate rather than incumbents choosing their voters)
  • - Paper ballots and hand counts (so we can trust the election results)
  • - Including election judges from all parties on the ballot (the two party tyrants have passed abusively undemocratic laws that only allow their party members to be election judges)

Inflicting these unfair requirements that are extremely difficult to overcome and often result in third party candidates being kept off both the Primary Election ballot and the General Election ballot is the ultimate form of third party voter suppression.

We fought a revolutionary war to be free of a tyrant and to end taxation without representation.  We now find that we have traded the old tyrant for two new tyrants, and for the vast majority of us who do not agree with either corporate parties’ platforms, we continue to suffer taxation without representation.

But, don’t demoralize…Organize!

There are many ways to join the struggle to push for these reforms, including:

  • - Voting Green when the Greens are on the ballot in Illinois in the even year General Elections and odd year Consolidated Elections. For example, since 2011 the DuPage County Green Party has won 7 out of the 8 campaigns (88%) they ran for local non-partisan offices!
  • - Volunteering for and donating to Illinois Green Party candidates in “established” districts such as in the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (Cook County) and Jackson County District 4 (Carbondale area) and “non-established” districts such as the 2020 Presidential race (statewide). Here’s a list of Green Party candidates.
  • - Supporting the Illinois Green Party by getting involved and becoming a dues paying member.
  • - Contacting your Illinois House Representative and demand that they pass the Equal Ballot Access bill (HB3828).
  • - Joining Move to Amend to get big money special interests out of our elections and end corporate rule. Also by contacting your US House Representative and demand that they pass the We The People Amendment (HJR48).
  • - Contacting your Illinois Senate and House Representative and demand that they pass the Ranked Choice Voting bill (SB2267/HB5585).

Howie Hawkins Wins Illinois Green Party Presidential Selection Vote

Green Party Presidential Candidate Howie Hawkins has won the 2020 Illinois Green Party Presidential Selection Vote!  From Syracuse, New York, Hawkins, a retired Teamster, is a founding member of the Green Party in the United States, having attended the first national meeting in 1984, and was the first person in the US to run on a "Green New Deal" in 2010.  Hawkins has ran for office many times in his life and his runs for governor in New York have maintained the Green Party of New York's ballot line for over a decade. 

Hawkins received 73% of the vote in the ILGP's online vote, which took place from Saturday, February 29 through Saturday, March 14, 2020. 

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