CHICAGO (CN) - A federal judge refused to grant the Green Party's last ditch effort to place its candidates on the November 2014 Illinois ballot.
The Illinois Green Party aimed to place a slate of statewide candidates on the Illinois ballot for the November 4, 2014 election. However, as a new party, the Greens have to support their candidates' nominating petitions with a greater number of voter signatures than do Democrats or Republicans.
The minimum number of signatures for a new party in an Illinois statewide election is 25,000, and every 10 signatures must be certified by the circulator, and witnessed by a public notary.
Between March and June 2014, the Green Party collected just under 30,000 signatures, but a Democratic Party official, Karen Yarbrough, challenged 12,000 of the signatures.
The state election board invalidated 7,000 signatures, leaving the party below the 25,000-signature threshold, meaning that it will not be on the ballot in 2014 without injunctive relief.
U.S. District Judge John Tharp, Jr. refused to grant that relief last week.
"The Green Party failed to challenge the complete-slate, notarization, and binder-check provisions in time for the current election cycle. Instead, the plaintiffs ask this Court to short circuit the State's election laws and regulations and simply order candidates onto the ballot in a manner that will, in effect, waive the constitutionally valid signature requirement, rather than address the allegedly unconstitutional provisions of law that the plaintiffs filed suit to overturn," Tharp said.
Although the judge found plaintiffs are likely to succeed on at least some of their claims, the state's interest in running an orderly election still weighs against issuing a preliminary injunction, he found.
"If the signature requirement itself were at the heart of this case, then perhaps preliminary injunctive relief that altered that requirement - directly or indirectly - would be equitable and appropriate," Tharp said. "But the plaintiffs are asking this court to enjoin a lawful
requirement to remedy other allegedly unlawful requirements that could have been, but can no longer be, addressed with respect to this election by a preliminary injunction." (Emphasis in original.)
The judge said plaintiffs "appear to have learned nothing" from a similar case brought by Ralph Nader in 2004, who also waited until the close of the signature-gathering period to bring his suit, rather than challenging the provision well before the election.
In Nader v. Keith
, the 7th Circuit upheld the 25,000 signature requirement for new-party presidential candidates.
But this requirement may be too onerous for state offices, especially in combination with other ballot-access restrictions, the opinion stated.
"What the plaintiffs have effectively created is a situation in which the only preliminary remedy that can be fashioned is to strike the ballot access provision that has been held to be constitutionally valid while allowing the allegedly unconstitutional provisions to remain.
"A cure that removes healthy tissue rather than the cancer has little to recommend it, and the plaintiffs' reliance on that backward logic falls well short of meeting their burden to establish that their rights to have the Green Party candidates on the ballot outweigh the State's interest in enforcing what has been held to be a valid, constitutional requirement for 'new' Illinois parties," Tharp said.