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Federal judge hands Greens, Libertarians some wins

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, a Clinton appointee, [yesterday] discussed the substantial relief she intends to order for minor party and independent candidates for the Illinois 2020 election. The Libertarian and Green Presidential Candidates will be on the ballot in Illinois, as will all “minor” party candidates who were on the ballot in 2016 or 2018. Unfortunately there were no Libertarians on the ballot in 2016 or 2018 for legislative seats in Illinois. The Libertarian candidate for Senate will also be on the ballot.

Judge Pallmeyer also offered relief to the Libertarians who are running for congress in 2020. They will only need 10% of their original signature requirement, and the petition deadline is extended from June 12th to August 7th. Signatures can be obtained via a computer and an electronic signature, though a paper version of the signature must be printed and brought to election officials.

The judge’s order is currently being drafted.

“This legal victory is the first of many for the Libertarian Party as we fight for fair access to the ballot in an era when traditional petitioning is impossible and a threat to public health. We think Judge Pallmeyer’s precedent will be a beacon for other justices as they hear the other Libertarian Party cases,” said Libertarian Party Executive Director Daniel Fishman

* Rebecca Anzel at Capitol News Illinois

The judge also dictated candidates may collect signatures remotely. Voters would be able to print out a petition from the candidate’s website, sign it and either send a hard copy to the candidate through the mail or electronically in an emailed attachment or as a photograph.

Alternatively, voters would be able to electronically sign petition forms from their smartphone or laptop’s trackpad. […]

The parties asked Illinois’ signature collection mandates be waived or suspended this general election cycle so their candidates could appear on the November ballot. In a remote court hearing Friday, Pallmeyer said that “is beyond the power of the court.”

“In other words, no test that I adopt is going to be, if you file a lawsuit, you get on the ballot. That’s not appropriate,” she said, according to a court transcription.

* However, some signature-gathering requirements were waived. From yesterday’s transcript

As I understand the order, it will be that if, for example, the Green Party qualified to have a candidate on the ballot in the Fifth Congressional district in one of the last two elections, so they would be — they would meet this qualification to nominate a candidate in the Green Party candidate without any signatures, but the fact that they nominated any Congressional candidate doesn’t mean that they can do that in every district where they didn’t have candidates.

Judge Pallmeyer said that interpretation was correct.

And it also means the two parties can nominate US Senate candidates and put them on the ballot without circulating petitions.


  1. - Anon E Moose - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:35 am:

    Judge Pallmeyer is an activist judge and has been for awhile.

  2. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:41 am:

    By activist, do you mean applying common sense in an extraordinary time?

  3. - DrRay - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:44 am:

    This is a good decision even if I think both the Libertarian and Green Party’s are kind of weird. I hope this is the first step towards getting rid of the absurdly vast differences in signature requirements.

  4. - PJ - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:50 am:

    What a win. Maybe now they could even try building support among actual people and running real candidates in local elections.

    Or they could keep running Vermin Supreme and Jill Stein for president. That’ll crush the two party system.

  5. - gdubya - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:54 am:

    Come up with a filing fee instead of signatures. Creates a little revenue for the state.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    ===filing fee===

    Like a poll tax?

    I’m aware, other jurisdictions have a payment provision, thanks.

    The signatures are put in place to show… something of an attempt… to be engaged in process.

    Given the challenges we all face in today’s new normal, I have no real problems with the ruling. We can revisit this thinking after 2020.

  7. - JB13 - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 9:58 am:

    A filing fee? Sure, why not. The court opinion knocking that down would at least be fun reading.

  8. - efudd - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 10:03 am:

    Filing fee.

    Sure, who sets it?
    How much?
    What if someone cannot pay it, litigation?
    When is the amount reviewed for possible increase?
    When a party can’t pay it, litigation?

    You get signatures that pass muster, you’re on the ballot.
    Isn’t life complicated enough these days?

  9. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 10:10 am:

    Agree with the decision. The requirements for alternative parties to be on the ballot are not useful. I doubt the General Assembly will do anything to change the requirements so it is good to see the Judicial Branch give this area a closer look.

    There are other elections coming up like the elections to replace the Pritzker appointed Boards to remove local control on investing local tax and local safety workers funds. As the new boards do not have any election procedures set, perhaps they should look at this legal ruling for some insight.

  10. - anon2 - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 10:40 am:

    The public likes third-party options, even if they can only be spoilers under the status quo. They would not be spoilers, however, under ranked choice voting. Nor would votes be wasted.

  11. - Titan - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 10:41 am:

    As to filing fees, many states have them, or make them an alternative to signatures (more than use signatures alone). The presidential campaigns I’ve dealt with all greatly prefer them (a sure thing, and generally cheaper than gathering signatures).
    A filing fee system could be done so as to survive legal challenges.

  12. - Just Another Anon - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 10:43 am:

    I’ll have to take a look at the order/ruling but I’m actually curious about the electronic signature provision. As I recall, IL does not permit them, period. I think she has the ability to waive the deadline, or to waive the signatures all together, or even to reduce the number required. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a judge implicitly setting aside state law (the requirement of the election code that the circulator verify that they witnessed the individual sign in their own proper person and notarize that verification) and substitute her own preference where that state law has been found to meet constitutional muster. From a legal philosophy perspective, that seems like giving short shrift to the purpose of the state law: (1) to provide some verification that the signatures were obtained by actual people and not just roundtabled, and (2) to prove that the candidate had a modicum of support. While ballot access is among the most important rights in our republic, it is not absolute. The right to access in Illinois has been qualified by the General Assembly in favor of ballot integrity and the logistical challenges of running an election where there are a plethora of fringe and vanity candidates on the ballot. Judge Pallmeyer and I have disagreed on certain matters of policy and law in the past, quite amicably actually, but if it is as broad as it appears, she may have overstepped with regards to electronic signatures. When the Court start to permit new types of ballot access abilities over the state’s prohibitions that may be opening Pandora’s box. Its a lot easier to get to 339,640 for a constitutional amendment when you can basically do it online (and I’m not sure that the order extends this far, but if I was a constitutional amendment supporter I would take a run at a lawsuit to extend the relief).

    There is a bunch of these cases happening around the country right now. Michigan just had theirs and it was less sweeping than here (though MI has more restrictive executive orders), and it won’t shock me that one of these cases goes up. Won’t shock me that some of the constitutional amendment folks won’t try to get something similar. Trick with that is you can’t reduce the number set in the state constitution but, if you can permit e sigs out of whole cloth for some races, you probably don’t have much grounds to deny them in other races where the relief is sought.

    tl;dr Seems like a solid footing to waive signatures where there were past recent showings of adequate support. Seems like a reduction in the number of signatures is reasonable. I’m concerned about the permission to allow electronic signatures. Wouldn’t shock me if a constitutional question proponent went and tried to get e-sigs authorized for their purposes as well (and maybe extend the deadline). Would be tough to distinguish the application there.

  13. - Froganon - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 11:01 am:

    The number of signatures for unaffiliated candidates was too large. Thumbs down on the filing fee, it’s an invitation to litigation and abuse unless it’s rigidly defined and enforced. Collecting a reasonable nmber of signatures force candidates to engage with voters. If you’re running for a local office, it’s the best way to meet voters and get to know their concerns.

  14. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 11:19 am:

    Doesn’t Pat Quinn have a lawsuit out there someplace regarding getting constitutional amendments on the ballot? Could this ruling help him?

  15. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 11:58 am:

    For the record, Vermin Supreme has never secured the Libertarian presidential nomination.

    If he had, perhaps the Tribune editorial board wouldn’t have thoroughly embarrassed themselves with their 2016 presidential endorsement.

    – MrJM

  16. - Leatherneck - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 12:10 pm:

    Or they could keep running Vermin Supreme and Jill Stein for president. That’ll crush the two party system.


    Or on the state level, they could keep running Bubba Harsy for Attorney General:

  17. - Leatherneck - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 12:12 pm:

    If the reduced signatures still apply for 2022, could we witness the political comeback of Sam McCann?

  18. - Marquee - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 12:24 pm:

    What about Willie Wilson’s independent campaign for Senate?

  19. - DrRay - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 1:08 pm:

    I would like to see a system like Britain has for running for Parliament (650 seats). You get a small amount of signatures and out down a 500 Pound deposit. If you get 5 percent of the vote you get your deposit back.

    It’s fair, and it applies to every party.

  20. - truthtopower - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 2:01 pm:

    In 2011 former State Rep. Jim Watson (R-Jacksoville) filed HB 2854, that in lieu of filing signatures, a candidate may pay a filing fee of 1% of the yearly pay of the office, or $50 for non-paid office. Here’s a link:

  21. - Titan - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 2:38 pm:

    I wonder if the judge is going to draft standards for electoral board challenges to the electronic signatures. Existing electoral board rules don’t contemplate any way to determine their validity.

  22. - truthtopower - Wednesday, Apr 22, 20 @ 6:43 pm:

    Very unlikey judge will want to get mired in such details.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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