Seventh Circuit Rejects Illinois Green Party Challenge to State House Petition Requirement

On October 6, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the U.S. District Court, that Illinois does not violate the U.S. Constitution by requiring the state house nominees of unqualified parties to submit a petition of 5% of the last vote cast, to get on the general election ballot. Tripp v Scholz, 16-3469. Here is the 27-page opinion. The case had been filed by the Green Party in 2014.

The two plaintiff-candidates each needed approximately 2,400 valid signatures. The court felt that it is not that difficult to collect that number of signatures in the 90-day window the law requires. The party also complained about the need to notarize the signatures, but the court said a circulator is free to make a single trip to a notary public and have all his or her sheets notarized at the same time. The party also complained that some state house districts lack any population centers (or else that if there were any population centers, the district boundaries bisected such towns), but the court noted that Harrisburg, Illinois, is entirely within one of the districts, and it has a population of 9,000.

The decision is by Judge Joel Flaum, a Reagan appointee. It was also signed by Judges Diana Sykes, a Bush Jr. appointee, and William Bauer, a Ford appointee.


Seventh Circuit Rejects Illinois Green Party Challenge to State House Petition Requirement — 15 Comments

  1. How many JUNK USELESS MORON so-called lawyers have done ALL of the losing ballot access cases by third parties and independents since 1968 ???

    Such MORON lawyers (along with the much worse MORON judges) can not detect —

    1. Each election is NEW.

    2. Separate is NOT equal. Brown v Bd of Ed 1954.

    3. EQUAL ballot access tests — for ALL candidates for the SAME office in the SAME election area.

    PR and AppV

  2. This comment may lead readers to believe that most constitutional ballot access cases lose. Actually they win approximately 50% of the time. Every state except New Hampshire and Mississippi has had a ballot access barrier (affecting independent candidates or minor parties) declared unconstitutional.

  3. What is to stop ALL State gerrymander regimes from copying the rotted ballot access laws in the evil worst of the losing cases — esp the losing cases in SCOTUS since 1968 ???

  4. A key advantage of Top 2 is that it necessarily equalizes ballot qualifications for all candidates.

  5. I was interested that Bauer had been appointed by Gerald Ford, but found that Bauer has had senior status for the past 23 years. He is now 91. He was appointed a federal district court by Richard Nixon.

    Of the 211 longest serving federal judges, 47 are still serving. The 47 were appointed by:
    JFK 1
    LBJ 4
    Nixon 26
    Ford 12
    Carter 4

    The Carter judges are just now entering the bottom of the list.

  6. Top 2 does zero about the various minority rule gerrymanders and reduces votes in gerrymander districts NOT having 1 D and 1 R.

    ie Some D/R voters (and many non-D/R voters) will NOT vote for any R/D candidate — even the alleged lesser of 2 evils.

  7. This is correct. For example, here in Indiana in 2012 we had three candidates for the U.S. Senate on our ballot: Richard Mourdock (R), Joe Donnelly (D), and Andy Horning (L). I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any of them, because all were anti-woman’s choice, and I flat-put refuse to support someone who is against abortion rights. I’ve known pro-choice Libertarians (that same year Rupert Boneham was the Libertarian nominee for Governor here, who I voted for over Gregg, the Democrat, as he was anti-choice).

    In a top two system, it’s very likely in this state that in at least half the races, I’ll never vote for someone again, because I don’t support a “lesser evil”, centrist Democrat just because the Republican in scary. Although actually, if we got rid of party primaries and did it California style, it’s extremely likely we’d just have two Republicans on the ballot in a multitude of races. I know we would for my congressional distract, and I know the same happens in California were it’s two Democrats, and that is just plain unfair to the voters in that district who are conservative.

    I understand some of the issues with party primaries, and I’m unsure the best way to address it, but you don’t fix it by screwing over the general election and not allowing voters the choice they should have. In Colorado they can have upwards of 20 people on a ballot for president, which is great, because the more options for the voter, the better. I think it might just come down to principle, because I don’t think anything could convince me differently when it comes to that.

  8. @JMIV

    You would still be able to to vote in the primary. For races other than governor, US Senator, and legislator, you are unlikely to have more than two or three choices, unless it is an open seat. If it is a lopsided partisan district, there may be a half dozen or so candidates for the open seat, since under a system of partisan primaries, the primary of the dominant party will determine who is elected in the general election, for as long as they want to serve (or are term-limited). But you would be unable to vote for any of them, unless you were a member of that party.

  9. So your argument is that as long as I have a choice in the primary, it doesn’t matter at all if I dislike the top two choices in the actual election that’ll place someone in a seat? Again, I understand the problems of party primaries, but instead of a top two system, why not a version of the Alaska system, have all candidates of all parties on the ballot and have the top vote getter from each party on the general ballot? That way even if the Green Party only gets 5% of the vote, they’ll still be on the ballot and it can’t possible harm a Democratic candidate from getting on the ballot. Isn’t that an inherently better system than just taking the top two in an open primary, as, once again, it gives the voters more choice in the general, which more people will vote in in the first place.

  10. @JMIV,

    The word “primary” means first. A primary election is the first stage of a two stage election process. In this case, it ensures majority support of the electorate, and also gives the voters an opportunity to make a choice among the two candidates with the most support. A general election is one in which most offices in general are on the ballot, as distinguished from a municipal or special election. Under a Top-2 system, applying “actual election” to the secondary stage is meaningless.

    I am indifferent to whether individual voters have a choice. Elections are to make a collective choice of a person, not a party.

  11. And this is why we’ll never agree, because to me the entire point of an election is for individual voters to have a choice they’re comfortable with, and you’ve admitted top-two isn’t concerned with that, which means I have no reason to ever support that system of elections. It limits choice, period, and you’re not concerned with that. I am.

    An Alaska like system is inherently better to me because it gets rid of the party primaries you dislike, but also doesn’t stop third-parties and independents (and Democrats and Republicans in areas where it’s highly registered voters of the other party) from being on the general ballot, the ballot that more people will vote in then will ever vote in a primary.

  12. Jim, if one relies on the Latin meaning of old Latin words, then, yes, “primary” means first. But many English words, including “primary” have various meanings. In the election context, generally in the U.S., “primary” means, and has meant for approximately 100 years, a device for political parties to choose their nominees. One can’t win the argument about top-two by talking about definitions.

    The real problem is whether top-two is good policy or not. It is not good policy. It restricts voter choice in the general election, which is defined in federal law as the November event. Restricting voter choice is a bad idea, and it has caused terrible consequences in California for voter turnout. The first top-two California midterm year, 2014, resulted in the lowest turnout ever for a California primary and also for a regularly-scheduled general election. The turnout consequences in presidential years are somewhat eased because top-two doesn’t affect presidential elections, so voters turn out for president.

  13. 2014 — a bit due to the hacks for statewide offices ???

    The lunatic media and the much worse SCOTUS hacks have made each Prez into a WAR Tyrant/demagogue since 1916 (WWI)

    — such that for LOTS of voters — it is a waste of time and effort to vote in non-Prez elections.

    PR and AppV

  14. @RW,
    Some people drop the noun that the adjective modifies. In the context of elections, “a primary” is a “primary election”. And the adjective “primary” would never have been applied to an election, if it were not considered the first phase or stage of an election. Historically in American politics, a “primary meeting” was the first meeting, sometimes to organize a second meeting. The Republican Party traces its founding to the July 6, 1854 convention in Jackson, Michigan; not the earlier meeting preliminary or primary meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin.
    Some people, including yourself refer to the November event as the “real election”, as if that would somehow win an argument.
    Turnout in the non-presidential primary in California has declined 9 of 12 elections since 1966, your first opportunity to vote in such an event. Coincidence or causality? As you are aware, there was no US senate election in 2014, and Jerry Brown, the elder, was running for his last re-election.
    Current federal law requires the choice of representatives and senators to occur in November. That does not make the November event a “general election”. It would be absurd to refer to the November event in even years in Louisiana as a “general election”.
    Incidentally, turnout for the Open Primary for senator in Louisiana dropped from October 1996, to November 1998, the first election after ‘Love v Foster’.
    Have you ever gone to a restaurant, and chosen an item on the menu, and then been told that they were out of that entree? Did you actually choose what you would eat in a meaningful sense of the word?

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