New bill would even the playing field for third-party and independent candidates
Senate Bill 63 would make signature requirements to get on the ballot uniform for all candidates.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, has introduced a new bill that would lower the amount of signatures needed for independent and third-party candidates to get on the ballot, the Illinois Southern reported.
Senate Bill 63 would make the minimum signature requirements for third-party and independent candidates the same as for Republican and Democratic candidates. Currently, the law states that a candidate not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties must attain the signatures of a larger portion of the electorate than either of the established parties in order for that candidate’s name to be on the ballot.
Specific numbers and percentages vary depending on the specific office being sought, but the amount of signatures needed for a third-party or independent candidate to get on the ballot is significantly higher than for the two established parties.
For example, independent or third-party candidates running for Congress have to get signatures from at least 5 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous general election for that seat. Candidates from the two established parties only need signatures from 0.5 percent of the previous primary vote from their district.
McCarter’s push to get the bill passed could be from experience in his own backyard.
In the run up to the November election, Bloomington-area physician and independent candidate David Gill ran to represent Illinois’ 13th Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Democratic candidate Mark Wicklund. However, Gill failed to garner the needed 10,754 signatures to get on the ballot, despite acquiring almost 8,500 signatures. The other candidates needed fewer than 800 signatures each, the Illinois Southern reported. Gill filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Illinois State Board of Elections, but did not get on the ballot before Election Day.
The bill, filed Jan. 11, has already had a first reading and has been referred to the assignments committee.
All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, should face the same requirements in order to run for office. The current system favors a political duopoly, in which the Democratic and Republican candidates have an unfair advantage over independent and third-party candidates. SB 63, if passed, would even the playing field and allow voters the chance to choose from a wide and diverse range of candidates. Illinoisans should have more choice in the voting booth, not less. Whether its independents like Gill, fledgling third parties trying to build a movement or the two major parties, all candidates should play by the same rules.