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Libertarians Survive Illinois GOP's Ballot Challenge

Courtesy of lpillinois.org

  On Nov. 4, Illinois voters will choose from the Republican and Democratic statewide candidates they've been hearing about for months. But there will also be a third choice in those races: candidates representing the Libertarian party. But getting on the ballot wasn't easy for the Libertarians.

To get their candidates on the November ballot, third parties in Illinois have to turn in the signatures of at least 25,000 registered voters — five times more than the 'established' parties: Democrats and Republicans.

The Libertarians turned in over 43,000, but the Republican Party objected to thousands of them. Challenges are common.

But according to a Chicago Sun-Times report, a lawyer for the Illinois GOP hired a private security firm to find voters who'd signed the Libertarians' petition. These investigators, who reportedly wore guns visibly, asked these people to sign an affidavit stating their signatures weren't valid.

The director of the Board of Elections, Rupert Borgsmiller, says he hadn't heard of a similar situation, but didn't want to comment on the methods the Republicans used.

"The proponents were trying to gather evidence to show that their arguments were correct," he said.

But fellow board member Harold Byers says the story struck him as odd.

"That was going pretty far," he said. "Sending people out early in the morning, it's like the Gestapo almost coming out or something to grab you."

In the end, the Libertarians were stripped of 17,000 signatures, but had just enough to make it on the ballot. The Board ruled that neither the Green Party nor the Constitution Party had enough valid signatures to get on the ballot.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving on to CNI in 2023.
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