But Greens Demand Emergency Relief Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
Wheaton, Illinois (March 24, 2020). The Illinois Green Party (ILGP) has placed its presidential candidate on the statewide election ballot in every presidential year since 2008, with over 117,000 Illinois voters choosing Green Party Senate candidate Scott Summers in 2016. Yet oppressive ballot access laws in Illinois — among the worst in the nation — repeatedly force the Greens to collect tens of thousands of petition signatures from registered voters in each election cycle just to get their candidates’ names on the ballot.
For the statewide general election ballot, these laws require Green petitioners to gather 25,000 petition signatures from registered voters – and to collect those signatures in just 90 days (March 24th through June 22nd). In practice, this requires petitioners to collect over 50,000 signatures, in order to safely survive legal challenges. Democratic and Republican presidential candidates only needed 3,000 signatures, with petitioning taking place last Fall.
Even under normal conditions, such a petition drive requires Herculean effort. Now, however, due to restrictions on public gatherings, “social distancing,” stay-at-home requirements and other essential public health measures, normal petitioning has been rendered impossible. The ILGP plans to follow best practices during the COVID-19 public health crisis and will adhere to governmental restrictions.
“Even where public encounters still occur, we cannot ask petitioners to risk their health by approaching strangers to get their signature, nor can we ask people to come within close physical proximity of our petitioners,” said ILGP co-chair Rich Whitney. “We strongly support emergency public-health measures. Defeating the pandemic is priority number one. But these measures also make the petitioning requirements of the Election Code even more patently unfair than they already were. Even the ridiculous requirement that circulators must have each of the 5,000 petition sheets notarized now poses highly problematic health risks.”
Accordingly, last week, the ILGP sent letters to Governor Pritzker, legislative leaders, and the State Board of Elections requesting that the petitioning requirement be waived or suspended for the current election cycle for ILGP candidates, due to the current public health crisis. As of this writing, the Governor has not responded to the letter.
Without such relief, the ILGP is forced to start the petitioning process today, but under conditions that virtually limit “petitioning” to members of the same household. Illinois law does not provide for on-line petitioning or any substitute for voters signing a hard-copy petition that is handed to them by a petitioner.
The Illinois Green Party is a political party that stands for economic, social, racial, environmental, and democratic justice for all of the people of Illinois. Neither the Green Party or their candidates for political office accept corporate contributions. For more information, please visit www.ilgp.org.