Third party candidates in Illinois will still have until July 20 to collect just 2,500 petition signatures to get on the ballot for the November election, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Sunday, defying the wishes of the Illinois State Board of Elections..
In denying the elections board’s request to halt a lower court’s ruling, candidates running for statewide offices on the Green, Libertarian or other third party ticket need only collect 10 percent of the usual 25,000 signatures required of non-established party candidates. Their deadline for file the petition signatures was also extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Board of Elections said it believed the initial Aug. 7 petition filing deadline the court had ordered “would impact its ability to conduct an accurate and orderly election,” according to the Seventh Circuit’s interpretation of the request.
In response, a federal judge moved the filing deadline up to July 20 — the middle ground between the initial Aug. 7 deadline and the board’s request of July 6. The judge declined to increase the number of signatures the third-party candidates needed to get on the ballot, and the board appealed the decision earlier this month.
The Seventh Circuit’s Sunday ruling noted the board “waited until June 6, a Saturday” to file its notice of appeal, and lightly chastised the board for not first filing its motion in the lower court.
That was after the Board of Elections had initially agreed to the terms in the federal judge’s April ruling, including an Aug. 7 deadline and lowering the number of petition signatures to 2,500.
The appellate panel said the board’s contention that it “would suffer irreparable injury” if the court did not intervene “gave us pause,” the unsigned order said.
However, the panel ultimately found the board’s argument unconvincing, and ruled that it would be unlikely to succeed on an appeal, especially given the evidence submitted to the appellate court — including the fact that other petition signature disputes have taken time to clear up — was weak and lacked support, according to the panel.
“In contrast, the appellees have provided evidence showing that they would be significantly injured if we stayed the preliminary injunction,” the panel wrote.
However, the Seventh Circuit did not slam the door on the appeals process, ordering both the board and the Green and Libertarian parties to submit paperwork by July 6, asking for either briefings or an oral argument.
Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich acknowledged Monday that most of the board’s original wishes are now moot, as the seven-day window for third party petition filing is still set to begin on July 13.
“It would appear unlikely that any filing dates will be changed,” Dietrich said.