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Illinois third-party candidates seek changes to ballot access amid COVID-19 pandemic

BOE

Springfield, IL - People looking to run for public office as third-party or independent candidates are facing a new struggle to get on the ballot due to the novel coronavirus. Petitioning for alternative political parties in Illinois started this week, but candidates are struggling as they can't talk face-to-face with residents during the stay at home period.

The Libertarian Party of Illinois asked Gov. JB Pritzker's office and the State Board of Elections what they could do to help alternative party candidates appear on the November ballot. Officials from the Board of Elections said nothing can be done without action from state lawmakers.

"We're kind of screwed right now, to be quite honest. It's impossible to gather petition signatures at this time," said McLean County Libertarian Party Chairman Steve Suess. "And there's not really a time table for when it will be possible either. We only have 90 days, so we have 89 more and the clock's ticking."

The Libertarian Party says they'll continue to look for solutions with the Governor's office and Board of Elections to give every political party the opportunity to be on the November ballot. Party members say lowering the current petition signature requirements could be a good first step, but they realize it would require proposals to move quickly out of both chambers. With the General Assembly canceling their third consecutive week of scheduled session due to COVID-19, it's highly uncertain if such plans could pass before the end of session in May.

"I have hopes that they'll be in Springfield in a few weeks in April, but who knows how long this shelter in place will be in order and how long it will be before our General Assembly can get together and actually work on something," Suess exclaimed.

Mike Miletich

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