A federal appeals court panel has rejected an effort by state elections officials to delay a lower court ruling setting up new candidate filing rules for independent and third-party contenders to appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a ruling Sunday, a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by the State Board of Elections to stay federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer’s mid-May preliminary injunction that made it easier for independent and third-party candidates to access the ballot due to personal distancing rules implemented to deal with COVID-19.
“We deny the motion because the board has not shown that it would be irreparably harmed by injunctive relief that it initially agreed to and because staying the preliminary injunction at this late date would result in clear harm to the plaintiffs who have relied on its terms,” the appellate panel said.
The order is here.
The concessions were made in response to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ statutorily mandated elections rules during COVID-19. The filing deadline prescribed by state law would have been on Monday.
The appeals court wrote in its opinion that, “Despite agreeing to each of these terms,” the elections board asked Pallmeyer to reconsider her order a few weeks later. She opted only to move the filing deadline up to July 20.
One month later, on June 9, the board asked a federal appeals court to suspend enforcement of Pallmeyer’s order completely and allow it to “determine necessary election modifications” instead.
In court documents, it argued a federal court does not have the authority to dictate how states conduct their elections. It also alleged a later filing deadline could mean officials will miss federal and state cutoffs to finalize ballots and mail them to citizens overseas.
“In contrast, the appellees have provided evidence showing that they would be significantly injured if we stayed the preliminary injunction,” the panel wrote.
However, the Seventh Circuit did not slam the door on the appeals process, ordering both the board and the Green and Libertarian parties to submit paperwork by July 6, asking for either briefings or an oral argument.
Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich acknowledged Monday that most of the board’s original wishes are now moot, as the seven-day window for third party petition filing is still set to begin on July 13.
“It would appear unlikely that any filing dates will be changed,” Dietrich said.