On May 24, attorneys for the Illinois State Board of Elections filed a brief in Libertarian Party of Illinois v Illinois State Board of Elections, 1:12-cv-2511, northern district. The state’s first argument is that the State Board of Elections and its members are not the proper defendants. This is a weak argument. In 1977, the Socialist Workers Party and the U.S. Labor Party filed lawsuits against the Illinois law on how newly-qualifying parties get on the ballot for Mayor of Chicago. Those cases won in U.S. District Court, and in the 7th circuit, and in the U.S. Supreme Court, unanimously. In that case the defendants were the State Board of Elections.
The state also argues that the June petition deadline is needed because when petitions are challenged in Illinois, the challenge process, and court battles over the sufficiency of the signatures, takes a long time. Of course, if Illinois didn’t have such restrictive laws, there wouldn’t be challenges. The problem is of the state’s own making. The state’s brief ignores the point that primary petitions also involve lengthy challenges and yet the deadline between primary petition deadlines and the date of the primary is much shorter. Primary petitions are due 106 days before the primary, but general elections are due 134 days before the general election. If the general election deadline were also 106 days, then the deadline for minor party and independent candidate petitions would be July 23, far better than the actual deadline of June 25.
The state defends its law requiring newly-qualifying parties to submit a full slate of candidates by saying that law had been upheld in state court in 2005. But the state does not acknowledge that back in 2005, independent candidate petitions were due six months earlier than petitions for new parties. The so-called rationale for the full slate back then was that without the full slate rule, independent candidates would create “dummy” new parties to avoid the early petition deadline for independent candidates. But nowadays, as a result of the 2006 ballot access victory in Lee v Keith, the independent candidate petition deadlines are in June, simultaneous with the petition deadline for new parties.