The first stage of nationwide petitioning has been carried out by Democrats and Republicans. However, we see dozens of political parties and independents stuck without access to ballots. The majority of states have issued declarations restricting people to essential activities such as getting gas, groceries, and healthcare treatment. People are told to stay 6 feet away from others and many states have now banned gatherings of large groups of people.
How does this affect the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Independents, and many other political parties? March begins the petitioning cycle for these groups of people across the country. However, people aren’t supposed to leave their houses for non-essential items, people are scared to handle a clip board other people have handled, and people are avoiding other humans. The candidates running for these parties are left with the reality of being unable to petition to get on the ballot in 2020.
The struggles these candidates face isn’t just because of COVID-19. Many states have signature requirements for these candidates that far exceed those for Democrats or Republicans. The state of Illinois requires statewide candidates to get approximately 5,000 signature but that’s only if you’re Republican or Democrat or an established party regularly earning more than 5% of the vote in an election cycle. What happens if you’re not established or running as an independent? Welcome to the world of getting 25,000+ signatures for the same political office an established party only needs to get 5,000 for. These numbers vary with smaller local offices but you’ll still often see 5-10x the amount of signatures requirements at this level of government. You’ll even find that Democrats and Republicans contesting the petitions of these candidates where they’ll try to find as many invalid signatures or errors on the petitions as possible. This often leaves candidates with having to far exceed the signature requirements to avoid being told they don’t have enough signatures after this contesting.
The state of Illinois seems to have it cut out for non-established parties and independent candidates. However, we see it get even worse with the state of Tennessee. You’ll need to get approximately 34,000 signatures while an established party needs only 2,500 signatures for a statewide office. There’s no fair ballot access in Illinois or Tennessee and these are just examples of what non-estalished party candidates and independents face across the nation. After you factor in the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll realize it’s impossible for these candidates to get on the ballot in 2020.
Candidates are faced with only one solution and that’s asking their state to alter its ballot access laws for the 2020 elections and hopefully future ones too. Illinois residents and candidates have been regularly reaching out to their state board of elections, representatives, senators and the governor’s office. What’s the end result? The Illinois State Board of Elections claims they don’t have any say in the matter. Members of Illinois’s general assembly aren’t allowed to meet and have stated it’s up to Governor Pritzker to make the call on ballot access. Weeks have passed and his office has yet to offer any relief to his state’s non-established and independent candidates. These responses aren’t just an isolated incident in Illinois, it’s a repeating behavior by statewide governments nationwide. We are on a course to see 2020 as one of the most unfair election years in United State’s history.
When will these statewide public officials stand up for fair ballot access? Millions of your residents are waiting to see if their candidates will be allowed on the ballot!