Issue Statements - ILGP Opposes Ballot Access Bill (SB3122)

2020-03-15: The Illinois Green Party Coordinating Committee Opposes the Illinois General Assembly Ballot Access Bill (SB3122)democracy.png

The synopsis of the bill states "Amends the Election Code. Provides that a statement of candidacy shall include a telephone number and email address, if any, for the candidate. Provides that a candidate seeking countywide office in Cook County shall include at least 5,000 but not more than 10,000 signatures in the candidate's petition for nomination (rather than the number of signatures equal to 0.5% of the qualified electors of his or her party who cast votes at the last preceding general election in Cook County). Amends the Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941. Provides that each petition for nomination for mayor, city clerk, and city treasurer for the City of Chicago shall include at least 5,000 but no more than 10,000 signatures of legal voters of the city."

The bill synopsis is false because the bill actually only modifies the section of the election code (10 ILCS 5/7-10) applicable to "established parties". It does not provide any much needed petition signature reductions for third party and independent candidates for countywide offices in Cook County.

Note that the ILGP does support the section of the bill that changes the fixed number of signatures required for non-partisan petitioning for nomination for mayor, city clerk, and city treasurer for the City of Chicago to be at least 5,000 but no more than 10,000. The number of required signatures currently is a minimum of 12,500. The ILGP supports this change because the change is uniformly applied to all candidates for all political parties and independents and increases political participation.

Unfortunately the ILGP strongly opposes the overall bill because of the other part of the bill which provides that an established party candidate (Republican or Democrat) seeking countywide office in Cook County shall include at least 5,000 but not more than 10,000 signatures in the candidate's petition for nomination (rather than the number of signatures equal to 0.5% of the qualified electors of his or her party who cast votes at the last preceding general election in Cook County). The ILGP opposes this part of the bill because the proposed change significantly reduces the minimum number of signatures required for Democratic Party candidates while not providing any relief for third party candidates which currently have to collect an enormously unfair number of signatures that makes it virtually impossible for third party candidates to get on the ballot.

For example, based on the 2018 election results, a Democratic Party candidate running for Cook County Sheriff would only need a minimum of 5,000 signatures under the proposed bill changes rather than a minimum of 7,279 signatures under the current law (31% fewer signatures), while a Green Party candidate would continue to need a minimum of 25,000 signatures to run for the same office. To add insult to injury, the reality is that the Green Party candidate would really need twice as many signatures (50,000) to avoid the inevitable ballot petition filing challenge by the Democratic Party’s lawyers to attempt to throw the Green Party off the ballot.

These unfair signature requirements result in the Green Party candidate having to expend approximately 4,000 more volunteer hours, to collect the 40,000 additional signatures, just to get on the ballot.

Greens advocate for equal signature requirements for all candidates.

The bill was introduced to the Illinois Senate on 2/6/2020. There is one sponsor. The bill has received a first reading and has been buried in the Election Law Subcommittee ever since.

The Illinois Green Party urges the Illinois House to oppose HB3828 unless they modify the bill to give all parties and independent candidates equal ballot access.