Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coming Soon to Illinois, the "Incumbent Protection Act"

Our reps in Springfield represent a single constituency: the constituency of getting themselves re-elected. If there was any doubt of this, they are poised to pass an incumbent protection act -- HB0723 -- which will make it harder than it already is for you or me to get our names on a ballot.

Normally a candidate gets on the ballot by running in a primary. When there is no candidate, an established party can use their caucus power to place someone on the ballot after the primary. But under the proposed legislation, a candidate in these circumstances will also be required to gather petition signatures. And not the normal number of signatures, but a prohibitive 5% to 8% of registered voters. Combine this with a shortened primary season, and the effect will be to effectively bar opposition candidates from seeing their names on the ballots, unless they run in the primary.

The true goal of the bill is to keep so-called 3rd Party candidates -- specifically the Greens and Libertarians -- off the ballot. This is shown by the fact that HB0723 has the support of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. All of our Lake County and other local Representatives voted for the bill -- with the exception of Beth Coulson and Paul Froehlich. The Bill already passed in the House.

A vote in the IL Senate is coming up. If you believe that democracy means having a choice in the voting booth, then your LakeCountyEye encourages you to contact your Senator and urge him or her to vote against HB0723. The Illinois Green Party has contact information on their website. And even if he is not your Senator, your LakeCountyEye urges you to contact Senator Terry Link and express your opposition. Link is a primary sponsor of the bill.
UPDATE 05/11/2009 5:00 pm
Kudos to State Senator Terry Link for amending the bill. Link's amendment lowers the requirement to the normal number of signatures required of a party candidate -- 0.5% of registered voters. But according to the Ballot Access News
The petitions would need to be circulated between mid-February and mid-April, not good months for petitioning in states with severe winters.
And provides an abbreviated two month window to meet the requirements. Still, the amendment delays passage of the bill. Your LakeCountyEye hopes a delay that proves be indefinite.

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