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"Insurmountable Burden" Law For Third Parties Stricken, Paving The Way For Libertarian Candidates

Amanda Vinicky
NPR | Illinois Public Radio
Illinois' Libertarian Party says the state's ballot access laws are some of the nation's toughest for new, or third, parties on several fronts; the Party's successfully fought back one of them in federal court. In 2014, the Party held a press conference t

A just-issued court order does away with a law that third-party candidates say makes it difficult to run for certain offices in Illinois.

The lawsuit dates back to 2012, when Libertarian Party candidates challenged a trio of state election requirements, including the full slate law.

"If the Libertarian party, or the Green Party, or the Constitution Party, or any other new party would want to run for governor, they would also have to find a qualified candidates for Attorney General, and a candidate for Secretary of State, Comptroller, etc.," Libertarian Party Chair Lex Green explains.

The same requirement applies for county-wide offices -- but only for non-qualified parties. Democrats and Republicans need not run a whole slate; they're free to run candidates for single statewide or county offices and have no one run for others.

"So we just asked that we be put on equal footing with the Democrats and the Republicans," Green says.

Green says recruiting and running a full slate is a "nearly insurmountable burden" for new parties.

He says defenders of the law use "high-minded language, to say 'We're trying to keep whackos and nut jobs from getting on the ballot.'

"Which I would argue that just because they have an R or D after their name doesn't mean they're any more sane or less so than the Libertarians," he says. "To me you can say whatever you want but it hides a political agenda. Because if you make the burden of getting on the ballot higher for somebody than for somebody else, then this is obviously unequal treatment under the law, which in my book is wrong ... I personally think that it is all political maneuvering to keep the Democrats and Republicans in power in Illinois."

The order issued Friday by Judge Andrea R. Wood of the Northern District U.S. Court finds the full slate law unconstitutional. Her reasoning isn't yet known; a decision hasn't been published.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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