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Orr outlines three campaign reform ideas

Thursday, May 17, 2018

* Cook County Clerk David Orr sat down with the Sun-Times editorial board to lay out three reform ideas

Between the deadline for candidates to file their petitions and the start of early voting, there simply isn’t enough time to fairly settle all ballot challenges. Most recently, candidates had to file by Dec. 4, and early voting started on March 5.

Orr wants to add two more weeks, and the Legislature should go for it, although his companion idea to move the primary to May might not get much support.

Second, Orr points out that it makes no sense to require some candidates for office in Cook County to gather more than 8,000 signatures when only 5,000 are needed to run for governor. To run for mayor of Chicago, a candidate must collect 12,500 valid signatures, which in the real world of city politics usually means having to collect at least 25,000 signatures to weather the storm of petition challenges. […]

A little excessive, can we agree? A 5,000-signature cap on signatures for all state and local offices would be prudent.

A third promising idea is to follow Denver’s lead and allow people circulating petitions to use internet-connected tablet computers that would instantly determine whether a signature on a petition is valid. That would cut down on the time needed to deal with signature challenges after candidates file.

A May primary would be a nightmare for legislators stuck in session. I just don’t see that happening.

Any other ideas?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Al - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    Vote on Saturdays and reduce the hours. Hard to find judges to manage those long days. 8am to 6pm Saturdays would make it easier to vote and find election judges.

  2. - FDB - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    Agree with the above comment about weekend voting.

    Also agree with Rich that moving primaries to May is a bad idea. However, Orr’s other suggestions are quite good.

  3. - OneMan - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    Eliminate some of the sillier reasons people get tossed (like how you bind your petitions)…

  4. - Grand Avenue - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    Perhaps instead of making the Primary later, we could make the circulation & filing period earlier by a month, so Circulation occurs in August-September-October rather than September-October-November. That would let candidates get more signatures in warmer weather and at more summer events - farmer’s markets, festivals, baseball games, etc.

  5. - Austinman - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 11:37 am:

    I like Orr’s ideas but the Primary should be in June or July. Having it in May would be just too hectic.

  6. - MissingG - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 12:05 pm:

    Put a flat # of signatures (2,500) for all GA, county, congressional, and statewide seats, push back the primary date AND expand the circulation period, make appeals of board decisions skip the circuit court, institute a permanent vote by mail option so people get ballots for all elections without having to request them, sanction objectors for frivolous objections… whatever, as long as Madigan is around (or his machine-successor), nothing will change if it might disadvantage the party

  7. - Fundatd - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 12:12 pm:

    — Second, Orr points out that it makes no sense to require some candidates for office in Cook County to gather more than 8,000 signatures when only 5,000 are needed to run for governor. —

    For Governor you need 5,000 for partisan candidates, 25K for independent or new party. Chicago mayoral elections are no -partisan. 12K for a city of more than 3M isn’t that excessive.

  8. - Signal and Noise - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    On site registration verification strikes me as a nice idea, but one that would overwhelmingly benefit established office holders with resources and infastructure to do it.

  9. - anon2 - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    Two simple ways to improve primary elections:
    1) Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which empowers voters to rank candidates in races with more than two candidates, and requires the winner to have the support of the majority of voters.
    2) Keeping private the party choice voters make. One reason registered voters don’t participate in primaries is that they know their primary voting history could come back to haunt them.

  10. - Practical Politics - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 1:19 pm:

    Ballot access has gotten more difficult under Madigan.

    Less than twenty-five ago, signature requirements were far less onerous. Consider that the minimum signature requirements for Representative in the General Assembly was 300, State Senatorial candidates needed 600, Circuit Court Candidates (all circuits in the state) had to file a minimum of 500 valid signatures. Now, Reps need 500, State Senators 1,000, Downstate judicial aspirants still need 500, but in Cook County the numbers range from 3,756 (Democratic - county wide) to 1,000 (Republican county-wide and all subcircuits). The two tiered system for judges protects Democratic committeemen slating judges.

    The judicial requirements are objectionable because judges are state officials and, some are called upon to work throughout the state.

    It is baffling that established party county officers in Cook need to collect more signatures than statewide candidates.

  11. - BucknIrish - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 3:30 pm:

    I’m glad after 30 years in charge of Cook County elections he is now a fountain of ideas. 30 years to bring these pretty simple improvements and he didn’t move an inch on them. Good Riddance

  12. - Anonymous - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 10:55 am:

    To - BucknIrish, I know you are new around here but try to keep up. Orr has spearheaded every major election reform in IL since 1990. National Motor Voter law, yea that was Orr. Early voting? Vote by mail, Student judges, all policy out of Orr’s office. He professionalized a corrupt office and saying ‘dead people vote in chicago’ is a thing of the past thanks to his efforts

  13. - Merchandise Marty - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    Completely agree with Anonymous.

    Just off the top of my head I can think of both Online and Election Day Registration, consolidating the local election 20-ish years ago (saved millions), 17 y/o voting as well as helping pass AVR just last year.

    Credit where credit is due – he’ll be missed.

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