IL: Federal district court grants ballot access relief to minor parties and independent candidates
Updated: May 11
Court Orders Illinois State Board of Elections to Place Libertarian, Green and Independent Candidate Plaintiffs on 2020 General Election Ballot for any Office for Which They Qualified in Either 2018 or 2016, and Lowers Signature Requirement and Extends Filing Deadline for All Others, Due to Coronavirus Public Health Crisis.
CHICAGO, IL., April 23, 2020 – Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois today ordered the Illinois State Board of Elections to place Libertarian Party of Illinois (“LPIL”) and Illinois Green Party (“ILGP”) candidates on Illinois’ 2020 general election ballot for each office for which the respective party ran a candidate in either the 2018 or 2016 general election. For all other offices, the Court lowered the number of signatures that candidates must submit on petitions by 90 percent, extended the filing deadline from June 22 to August 7, enjoined enforcement of the requirement that petitions be notarized, and authorized voters to sign petitions and submit them by email or other electronic means. Independent candidates David Gill and Marcus Throneburg won the same relief.
In an opinion accompanying its order, the Court stated that the relief granted was intended to accommodate “the significant restrictions on new party and independent candidates’ ability to collect signatures in light of the unprecedented limitations on public gatherings required to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
Plaintiffs LPIL, ILGP, Gill and Throneburg, together with several Illinois voters, filed their lawsuit on April 2, 2020, after Governor J.B. Pritzker failed to respond to their requests for relief from Illinois’ ballot access requirements and the State Board of Elections stated that it lacked authority to grant it. In a motion for preliminary injunction filed on April 3, 2020, the Plaintiffs argue that they “cannot lawfully comply” with those requirements due to the emergency orders that Governor Pritzker entered in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Under Illinois law, minor political parties and independent candidates qualify for the ballot by submitting petitions signed by the requisite number of voters. But Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-10, issued March 20, 2020, provides that all individuals in Illinois must “stay at home or at their place of residence” except for purposes of conducting “essential” activities or functions. Petitioning is not defined as an “essential” activity. The Plaintiffs therefore alleged that Illinois law, as presently applied, violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
“Chief Judge Pallmeyer’s order today is well-reasoned and firmly grounded in Supreme Court precedent,” said Oliver Hall, founder and legal counsel at the Center for Competitive Democracy, which represents the Plaintiffs. “It grants the relief necessary not only to protect the Plaintiffs’ core constitutional rights, but also the right of all Illinois voters to cast their votes effectively in the November 2020 general election.
As a result of the order, the Libertarian Party and Green Party presidential tickets will be on Illinois’ 2020 general election ballot, as will both parties’ candidates for U.S. Senate. Additionally, GPIL is qualified to run candidates for U.S. House in Illinois’ fifth and twelfth districts.
The case is captioned Libertarian Party of Illinois, et. al. v. Prtizker, et al., No. 1:20-cv-02112 (N.D. Ill.).