Illinois judge rules mid-election attempt to stop challengers is unconstitutional

Illinois judge rules mid-election attempt to stop challengers is unconstitutional

In a victory for Illinois voter choice, a permanent injunction was issued against a mid-election attempt by state leaders to prevent challengers from getting on the Nov. 5 ballot.

An Illinois circuit judge ruled June 5 a mid-election attempt by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state lawmakers to stop challengers in 78 legislative districts was unconstitutional.

“The General Assembly can change the rules for elections, but they can’t do it in the middle of the game to keep challengers off the ballot,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, which worked with Illinois Policy to bring the lawsuit. “We are proud to stand up for these candidates and against yet another scheme to suppress competition in Illinois elections.”

The Sangamon County circuit judge issued a permanent injunction against the provision of Senate Bill 2412 which blocked the ability of political parties to slate candidates in the upcoming November election. The process gives voters a choice in the general election if no party candidates ran in the primary election, guaranteeing a more competitive and fairer election for Illinoisans.

The law was hastily passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed by Pritzker in the middle of the current election cycle. While the injunction preserves the 14 plaintiff candidates’ right to appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, the law will still end the process of slating in future election cycles.

Lead plaintiff and prospective candidate Leslie Collazo said the maneuver by Pritzker and state leaders during the middle of the election cycle diminished Illinoisans’ choice of representatives.   

“This is bigger than just, ‘Oh, I put all this time, energy, funds, toward this.’ The fact they can try to pull this in the middle of the process is more devastating,” Collazo said. “The greater cost is to allow this to happen. To not give people an option to put someone in office who will be a voice for them. I think people deserve better than that.”

“And I think the other side is nervous because the people have spoken and they’re ready for change. To see them grappling with these types of things at the last minute to avoid losing their position is really unfair.”

Choice matters in elections. Illinois Policy Institute analysis has shown voter participation was on average 7 percentage points lower in Illinois House districts with only one candidate on the ballot. Under Illinois’ previous legislative map, on average roughly half of all Illinois House races were uncontested.

It was unclear whether the Illinois State Board of Elections or Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul plan to appeal the decision.

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