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While Illinois decided to go ahead and hold its primary election March 17 despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, other politicos are worried about how the crisis might affect the ability of third party candidates to get on the ballot in November.
Third party candidates need to collect signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot starting this month through late June. Under normal circumstances, candidates knock on doors or attend political events asking voters to sign their petition.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced residents to stay in their homes and elected officials have banned large gatherings of people, thats made it more difficult to collect signatures.
The Will County Republican Party called on state officials this month to come up with some solutions to help third party candidates.
Ballot access is the American way, the party said in a statement. It is our vision that all parties have fair and equal access to pick their chosen candidates.
Danny Malouf, a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, said candidates like him are already at a disadvantage because they need to collect many more signatures than Republican and Democratic candidates.
For the U.S. Senate, he has to collect 25,000 valid signatures, five times more than Republicans and Democrats. In reality, he said that means he has to collect closer to 40,000 signatures to get on the ballot to ensure he has enough in the event some are challenged and deemed invalid.
Still, Malouf said he understands why people might be reluctant to answer their doors or even take a pen from him when residents have been told to practice social distancing.
This is a scary time for a lot of people, he said. We want to respect peoples health and concerns.
Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the Illinois Board of Elections, said signature requirements are set by state law, which the General Assembly would have to change. While Maloufs efforts are made more difficult because the legislature isnt in session for the time being due to the pandemic, hes lobbied the governor for some sort of executive action.
But Deitrich said neither the governor nor the board of elections has the authority to change the requirements. His agency has been in contact with the Libertarian Party and Green Party over the issue.
Still, he added that third party candidates could take their argument to court to get some sort of relief considering the unusual circumstances.
The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3.
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