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Everyone has their own priorities

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020

* Illinois Green Party…

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.

* Rick Pearson

The Green Party has asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker, legislative leaders and state elected officials to “waive or suspend” the current petition signature requirements.

However, there are no provisions that would allow an administrative suspension of the signature rules. Instead, it would require a change in state law, and lawmakers in both parties have shown little interest in relaxing ballot access rules in Illinois amid the uncertainty over when the General Assembly can reconvene in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments »
  1. - JB13 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:46 pm:

    Well, they do have a point - particularly since democracy can’t be paused, even during a pandemic, as the governor so eloquently explained just one week ago.

    So, maybe someone who runs the General Assembly could help with this?


  2. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:52 pm:

    I’ve mainly despised the Illinois Green Party over the years, but in this case they’re right. Let them participate.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:56 pm:

    I am trying to grapple with the “critical” part that they must have access and the real challenges now to meet benchmarks.

    I consistently say run ‘em all, this issue might need a think by the Board of Elections


  4. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:56 pm:

    The state already makes third-parties go through tons of hurdles just to get on the ballot in a normal year. I highly doubt Madigan will go out of his way to help the Green Party gain ballot access this year.


  5. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:58 pm:

    Meanwhile in Montana…

    https://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/state-gop-spent-k-to-qualify-montana-green-party-for/article_e255eae0-b7f1-5e16-b224-95b79e6ff7a1.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-1

    I wonder why the Montana Republicans are helping the Green Party?


  6. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:05 pm:

    The Green Party’s time would be better spent encouraging their party members to give blood or some other selfless act.


  7. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:07 pm:

    === Everyone has their own priorities ===

    Yeah, it is still just remarkable how often the answer is “themselves”.


  8. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:11 pm:

    I’m struggling to see why we should make special adjustments for a party that never gets more than 5% of the vote, unless Rod Blagojevich is on the ballot. And he won’t be on the ballot this year.


  9. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:20 pm:

    Wow so we’re supposed to just talk about the pandemic all the time and let the 2 major parties take care of it? The Green Party is selfish?

    Its website says its platform includes:

    Ecological wisdom
    Social justice
    Grassroots democracy
    Nonviolence
    Decentralization
    Community-based economics
    Feminism
    Respect for diversity
    Personal and global responsibility
    Future focus

    Sounds close to what the (real, historical) Thomas Paine stood for (judging from Wikipedia).

    Maybe we really are doomed.


  10. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:20 pm:

    I’m find of appalled at those here criticizing the Green Party and their request. Democracy is being suspended by the situation at hand. Just because they are the Green Party or the Constitutional party should not matter. Soon there will be candidates appointed by the Democratic and Republican Parties to run for office. They will need to get signatures as well. This is an appropriate ask and one that should have a conclusion.


  11. - Flapdoodle - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:22 pm:

    The Greens have a point, yes, but I wish this letter didn’t have undertones of special pleading. SFAIK, there is no legal authority for the action they request. That authority would need to be created by the legislature, signed by the governor, then survive likely court challenges. In the meantime, with any sign that the Greens’s request is gaining traction, other third parties are likely to jump in. There’s flexibility and then there’s abandoning established procedure. I think this is the latter, and risks dangerous precedent.


  12. - Marquee - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:24 pm:

    The Libertarians are asking for similar measures.

    This also affects Willie Wilson’s independent campaign for Senate


  13. - Odysseus - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    “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.”

    I’m solidly unconvinced. I myself know at least a dozen people who would sign a petition to get a Green Party candidate on the ballot, even if they themselves are not GP supporters.

    I’d like to see what a serious effort could dredge up.


  14. - Huh? - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:43 pm:

    “I wonder why the Montana Republicans are helping the Green Party?”

    Perhaps split the democratic vote? More people vote green party, the fewer who vote democratic.


  15. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:55 pm:

    I am astounded by the way people just want Pritzker to just waive his arms and suspend laws or ignore laws. Would they be happy having all executives do this? We have learned and maybe we can change the law to allow this in future but sounds too much like looking for a man on a white horse


  16. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 5:16 pm:

    Oh for crying out loud, now Jill Stein is the second coming of Thomas Paine? C’mon man, be serious. Just like with fair maps or property tax reform or any of the other group trying to take advantage of this situation to push their own agendas, JB has got more important things on his plate right now than making it slightly easier for greenies to get 1.8% of the vote in a general election


  17. - Generic Drone - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 5:48 pm:

    I, for one, want to see extentions for other parties. Contrary to Lester Holts opinion, I am still shopping for candidates.


  18. - Practical Politics - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 6:08 pm:

    I seem to recall back in the 1990s when there was uncertainty about district boundaries after a lengthy remap process that the Illinois Supreme Court accepted several ballot access appeals and issued supervisory orders letting almost all of the candidates run in the primary.

    This case involves a general election, so that may be a horse of a different color. Let the Greens run.


  19. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 6:54 pm:

    == Contrary to Lester Holts opinion, I am still shopping for candidates.==

    I didn’t say don’t vote for them - if a green is your preferred candidate, by all means, vote for him/her. I’m saying that JB shouldn’t spend his time working on something like that right now - just like he shouldn’t spend his time calling a special session for fair maps or property tax reform right now. I’d much rather him focus his time and efforts on the state government response to covid-19.


  20. - revvedup - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 6:56 pm:

    Does the entire issue of requirements to run candidates need to be reviewed? YES. The limits placed on minor parties and independents are far too heavy to take on the entrenched parties. But now is not the time to do it. Democracies have to set priorities, and this one is low on the list right now. I can hear the screams of disenfranchisement, but frankly this is a fight that should have fought years ago by the new parties. Nor gave the Governor waive the Election Code.


  21. - Rutro - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 7:30 pm:

    What about the I just invented the party? The Responsibility Party?


  22. - Levois J - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:52 pm:

    I don’t have a problem with them asking for some consideration in light of this emergency. It wouldn’t be a big deal to me if this was permanent. Perhaps minority parties don’t need to major hurdles to get onto the ballot.


  23. - Benny - Thursday, Mar 26, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    I think what folks are missing is that this isn’t just a plea from a party wanting on the ballot. It’s a constitutional problem. The current requirement, combined with the COVID-19 orders, will effectively bar non-established candidates from the ballot. That’s unconstitutional.


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