Justice is something for which we constantly struggle but only occasionally obtain in the U.S. legal system. Once in a while, though, we get a measure of it. And we are pleased to announce that this just occurred in the lawsuit we recently filed in the Northern District of Illinois.
As many of you know, Illinois has among the most repressive ballot access laws in the nation, requiring so-called “new” parties to gather 25,000 petition signatures from registered voters, in just 90 days, in order to get their candidates’ names on the November ballot. We have achieved that monumental task a number of times in the last 20 years. However, the public-health measures now in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic made petitioning virtually impossible.
Accordingly, on April 2nd, the Illinois Green Party joined with the Libertarian Party of Illinois and two independent candidates seeking ballot access in a lawsuit filed against Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Elections, seeking emergency injunctive relief from the petitioning requirement during the 2020 election cycle.
Thanks to great legal work by attorneys Oliver Hall of the Center for Competitive Democracy and Ohio attorney Mark Brown (with an assist by our own Scott Summers), we not only persuaded the court, but even the defendants, that the petitioning requirements were unconstitutional under the current conditions. After some negotiating, the parties came to an agreement that was entered into this preliminary injunction order, accompanying an opinion and order by Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, explaining the legal basis for the injunction.
The highlights of the preliminary injunction order are as follows:
- The portions of the Election Code requiring hard copy petition signatures are enjoined (suspended) for this election cycle.
- Candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties shall qualify for placement on the ballot for each office in which they had previously placed candidates on the ballot in 2018 or 2016, without having to submit any petition signatures. This covers our candidates for our presidential ticket, as well as our U.S. Senate candidate, Rockford attorney David F. Black. Three independent candidates will also qualify for the ballot based on their past ballot access status.
- Other Green, Libertarian, new party or independent candidates may qualify for the ballot by submitting petition signatures equal to 10 percent of the usual legal requirement, by an extended filing deadline of August 7th. Electronic petition signatures, using a finger or computer mouse or stylus (similar to what many merchants now use for credit card signatures) will be accepted for this purpose.
“This is a great legal victory, not only for the Green and Libertarian parties, but for the voters of Illinois, who have a right to cast their ballot for the candidates and parties of their choosing,” said Illinois Green Party co-chair Rich Whitney. “That right is ordinarily suppressed, and frequently denied altogether, by our state’s unfair ballot access laws. Ironically, the extraordinary conditions created by the pandemic both required and permitted the administrators of that unfair system to do the right thing this one time. We were also fortunate enough to have a judge who clearly understood that the Constitution required the granting of this relief.”
As a result, our presidential candidate, who will either be longtime New York Green Howie Hawkins or Ohio Green Dario Hunter, will appear on the November ballot, giving Illinois voters a badly needed alternative to the dismal and nauseating choices presented by the two corporatist/war machine parties, as will our Senate candidate David Black. It also means that Murphysboro Green Josh Hellmann will be able to return to the ballot, joining Whitney as a candidate for Jackson County Board. This is in addition to our excellent candidates running for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago and other candidates already on the ballot in jurisdictions where we are recognized as an established party. The Green Party may be able to field a few additional candidates under the terms of the injunction; watch our newsletters for future announcements.