There are many things forgotten as the population focuses on health in these days of COVID-19.
Illinois has had its Primary Election, with the nominations of Democrat and Republican candidates, and it’s still set for the General Election to be Nov. 3.
Third party candidates have a different schedule, as the time period for gathering signatures to be on the ballot began March 24. The petitions and forms must be submitted June 15-22, as pointed out by Paula Rossow of Loda who intends to run as an independent candidate for a seat as District II representative on the Iroquois County Board.
“In view of a dreadful pandemic, this seems trivial, but if independents are effectively eliminated from the ballot, I feel that democracy is diminished to some degree,” she said. “If COVID-19 continues to be a risk factor for citizens through April and May, independent and third-party candidates will be at a significant disadvantage in terms of time and opportunities to gather signatures.”
“We don’t have the authority to change the date or process. That’s a statutory deadline, based on the date of the general election,” aid Matt Dietrich, public information officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
He said the board of elections has gotten the question of what third party candidates should do in filing a lot. Representatives from both the Libertarian and Green parties has formally asked. Illinois does not have an Independent Party, rather people running independently.
He said it’s up to the state legislature to put an amendment to change the date, or the courts will have to step in with an injunction.
“We’ve been referring (potential filers) back to their own legal council to pursue action.”
With the courts hearing limited cases, this is one which could be heard immediately, Dietrich said.
Rossow normally would go door to door or set up a table to gather support, but social distancing halts that, she said.
She said if “shelter-in-place” does end at the end of April, that would give just six weeks to collect between 132-212 signatures to get on the ballot.
The democratic process needs to work, she said, noting that it “pales in comparison to concerns about residents’ health and well-being”.