Bill would level signature requirements for all political candidates

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

The number of signatures required to get on the ballot in Illinois depends on your political party. A proposed law looks to level that playing field.

Senate Bill 63 would level the required amount of signatures to get on a ballot in Illinois between independents and politically affiliated candidates. While the required amount of signatures varies, some areas of the state require an independent candidate to get up to 15 times the amount of signatures that a Democrat or Republican would.

“They deserve access to the ballot as much as anyone else,” said State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Benton, who sponsored the bill. “The established party candidate’s signature requirement may be a thousand. The requirement for an independent candidate may be 12, 15 times that.”

Bloomington physician Dr. David Gill tried to get on the 13th District congressional ballot as an independent last year but lost a lengthy legal battle and was removed from the ballot. After having only the required 90-day window to file more than 11,000 signatures, his petitions were challenged and subsequently lowered to less than the required amount.

A district judge ruled in Gill’s favor saying the requirements were “overly burdensome,” but an appeals court reversed the ruling. His case was denied a hearing by the U.S. Supreme court and he was held off of the ballot.

Gill would have needed fewer than 800 signatures had he been affiliated with the Democrat or Republican parties.

This bill, he said, would have changed everything.

“It would have assuredly meant that I would have been on the ballot,” Gill said.

Gill said he thought it might go a little too far to completely level the signature requirements because independent candidates don’t have to go through a primary election.

“(Independent candidates) don’t have to go through the semi-finals that a primary achieves” he said.

McCarter hopes that the General Assembly, filled by Democrats and Republicans, will give the bill a fair chance.

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