As we enter a new year, a new decade and yet another election cycle, the ongoing question from fed-up voters keep ringing in my mind: “Why don’t we have other candidates running for office? These candidates on the ballot are awful!”
It’s an easy and difficult question to answer, so allow me to break the response into two parts:
Easy response: Democrats and Republicans in Springfield set the thresholds for ballot access regarding all partisan political races from statewide all the way down to the township level. The thresholds they set almost 90 years ago have been preferential treatment toward both parties, while they set ridiculous amounts for anyone unaffiliated with the political duopoly to run for office.
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Difficult response: The two-party system hates competition and does everything they can to keep new party and independent candidates from getting on the ballot. Depending on the particular political race – and often the county – a new party or independent candidate is forced to collect anywhere from three to 150 times the minimum threshold for Democrats and Republicans.
Take, for instance, our statewide races. Democrats and Republicans only have to file a minimum of 5,000 signatures. If you’re a Libertarian, Green, Constitution or other party candidate, or if you’re an independent, you have to collect a minimum of five times that threshold and then submit double that to survive a challenge (usually instigated by the Illinois GOP).
It’s overdue time to change yet another outdated election law. Three previous election laws have been struck down in federal court against former Attorney General Lisa Madigan and with no legislative action, the ballot access petitioning threshold could end up in the courts as well.
Contact your legislators to have them look at the bills and ask for their support.
Jake Leonard, Nokomis