Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Illinois

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This page contains extensive information about ballot access requirements for state and federal candidates running for elected office in the state of Illinois. Offices included are:

This page contains information on specific filing dates for each election year, how to become a candidate, how to create a political party, campaign finance requirements, state agency contacts involved in the election process, and term limits in Illinois. Information on running for election as a presidential candidate or for county and municipal offices is not included. This page reflects research completed in April 2014.

Note: If you have any questions or comments about this page, email us.

Year-specific dates

2014

See also: Illinois elections, 2014

Illinois had a primary election on March 18, 2014 and will have a general election on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:

The filing deadline for established party candidates to run for office in Illinois was December 2, 2013. The filing period for new political party candidates and independent candidates to file their nomination papers begins on June 16, 2014 and ends on June 23, 2014. The deadline to file paperwork to create a new political party is also June 23, 2014. Write-in candidates may run in both the primary and general elections. Their filing deadline for the primary election was January 23, 2014, and their filing deadline for the general election is September 4, 2014.[1][2]

Legend:      Ballot Access     Campaign Finance     Election Date




Dates and Requirements for Candidates in 2014
Deadline Event Type Event Description
December 2, 2013 Ballot Access Established party candidate filing deadline
December 7, 2013 Ballot Access Deadline to file objections to established party candidate nomination papers
January 23, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for write-in candidates running in the primary election
March 18, 2014 Election Date Primary election date
June 16, 2014 Ballot Access Filing period for new party candidates and independent candidates begins
June 23, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for new party candidates, independent candidates and to create a new political party
June 28, 2014 Ballot Access Deadline to file objections to independent or new party candidate nomination papers
September 4, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for write-in candidates running in the general election
November 4, 2014 Election Date General election

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of November 2013, Illinois officially recognized two political parties.[3]

Party Website link By-laws/Platform link
Democratic http://www.ildems.com/ National party platform
Republican http://www.weareillinois.org/ Party by-laws

In some states, a candidate may choose to have a label other than that of an officially recognized party appear alongside his or her name on the ballot. Such labels are called political party designations. A political party designation would be used when a candidate qualifies as an independent, but prefers to use a different label. Illinois does allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.{{{Reference}}}

The 11 states listed below (and Washington, D.C.) do not provide a process for political organizations to gain qualified status in advance of an election. Instead, in these states, an aspirant party must first field candidates using party designations. If the candidate or candidates win the requisite votes, the organization may then be recognized as an official political party. In these states, a political party can be formed only if the candidate in the general election obtains a specific number of votes. The number of votes required and type of race vary from state to state. Details can be found on the state-specific requirements pages.[4]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 10 of the Illinois Statutes

Gaining ballot access

A new political party can be created at any political subdivision level, such as state, district or county. To do so, the new political party must file nomination papers for a slate of candidates for all offices up for election in that political subdivision.[5][6]

The nomination papers for the new party's candidates must be filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections during the independent and new party candidate filing period. Along with the nomination papers, the new political party must file a petition that states the party's name and its intention to become a political party. The new political party's name cannot be more than five words and cannot be the same name, nor include the same name, as any established political party.[5][7]

The petition must also contain a list of the new party's candidates for all the offices up for election in the political subdivision in which the party wishes to be recognized. Signature requirements for the petition are as follows:[7]

Political subdivision where party recognition is sought Number of signatures required in statutes Number of signatures required for the 2014 elections[5]
State (including United States Senate offices and state executive offices) Number equal to one percent of voters who voted at the last statewide general election or 25,000, whichever is less 25,000
Congressional District 1 Number equal to five percent of voters who voted at the last general election in that district or the number of signatures required to gain state recognition, whichever is less 16,815
State Senate District 1 Number equal to five percent of voters who voted at the last general election in that district or the number of signatures required to gain state recognition, whichever is less 2,401
State House District 1 Number equal to five percent of voters who voted at the last general election in that district or the number of signatures required to gain state recognition, whichever is less 1,157

Along with the nomination papers and petition, a Certificate of Officers must also be filed, listing the names and addresses of new party officers authorized to fill vacancies in nomination. If this form is not filed, the new party will not be able to fill vacancies in nomination, but the petition will still be valid.[5]

Maintaining ballot access

Once the petition and nomination papers have been filed, the new political party may place its candidates on the general election ballot, but the party will not be officially recognized unless its candidates receive at least five percent of the total votes cast for the offices up for election in the political subdivision in which the party was seeking recognition.[5][6] If the new political party ran a candidate for gubernatorial office and that candidate received at least five percent of the votes cast for that office, the new political party will be recognized statewide and in all political subdivisions.[7]

For an example of how many votes may be needed to maintain ballot access, look to the table below.

Office Votes cast in 2010 Votes needed to maintain ballot access
Governor 3,729,989[8] 186,499
U.S. Representative, District 1 184,386[9] 9,219
Illinois State Senator, District 1 17,517[10] 876
Illinois State Representative, District 1 7,210[11] 361

Convention requirements

Established parties must hold county conventions on the 29th day before the primary election. At these conventions, the county central committees must elect a chairman, delegates to their party’s state convention and any other officers the committee deems necessary. Within 10 days after the county convention, the chairman of each county committee must then forward to the state committee the names and addresses of all newly elected officers of the county committee.[12]

State conventions are held once every four years, during presidential election years. They must be held within 180 days of the primary election of that year.[12]

Process to become a candidate

Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors
  • 45 states have Lt. governors, 43 of them fill the office by election
  • 21 states, including Illinois, elect Lt. governors on a single ticket with the governor at both the primary and general elections
  • 5 states elect Lt. governors separately from Governors at the primary and then put the top two vote-getters together on the general election ballot
  • 17 states elect Lt. governors separately from the Governor

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7 of the Illinois Statutes

In Illinois, candidates may run as established party candidates, new party candidates, independent candidates or write-in candidates.[5] Established party, new party and independent candidates have the same filing requirements, but the process for write-in candidates is different. These processes are outlined below.

Party candidates and independents

Established party candidates, new party candidates and independent candidates must file nomination papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections to become candidates in Illinois. These nomination papers must be filed during the candidate's designated filing period. The filing period for established party candidates begins 106 days before the primary election and ends 113 days before the primary election.[13] New party and independent candidates have a separate filing period. Their filing period begins 134 days before the general election and ends 141 days before the general election.[5]

Nomination papers include:[5]

  • Statement of candidacy[14]
    • This form must contain the address, office sought and political party designation (if applicable) of the candidate.
    • This form includes a statement affirming that the candidate is qualified for the office sought, which must be signed by the candidate and notarized.
  • Receipt of Statement of Economic Interests[5]
    • The original Statement of Economic Interests must be filed with the Illinois Secretary of State, which will then issue the Receipt of the Statement of Economic Interests for the candidate to file with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
    • This form is not required from candidates seeking federal office.
    • It is suggested this form be filed at the same time as filing all other nomination papers, but it may be filed after the other papers as long as it is filed within the candidate filing period.
  • Loyalty Oath[5][15]
    • This form is optional.
    • If candidates choose to sign it, they must affirm that they are not affiliated directly or indirectly with any organization that seeks to overthrow the government of the United States or the state of Illinois.
  • Petition[5]
    • Candidates can begin circulating their petitions 90 days before the last day of their filing period.[16]
    • Signature requirements for petitions vary by the candidate's political party affiliation and the office sought.
    • Examples of signature requirements for new party candidate petitions can be found above in "Process to establish a political party."
    • Examples of signature requirements for established party candidates and independent candidates can be found in the tables below.
Signature requirements for established party candidates
Office sought Number of signatures required in statutes Number of signatures required for the 2014 elections[5]
State executive office or U.S. Senate office No less than 5,000 but no more than 10,000 5,000-10,000
Congressional District 1 Number equal to one-half of one percent of the total number of qualified party electors in the same party as the candidate who voted in the last presidential election 1,314 for Democratic candidates or 337 for Republican candidates
State Senate District 1 No less than 1,000 but no more than 3,000 1,000-3,000
State House District 1 No less than 500 but no more than 1,500 500-1,500
Signature requirements for independent candidates
Office sought Number of signatures required in statutes Number of signatures required for the 2014 elections[5]
State executive office or U.S. Senate office Number equal to one percent of voters who cast a vote in the last general election or 25,000, whichever is less 25,000
Congressional District 1 Number equal to no less than five percent but no more than eight percent of the total number of voters who cast ballots at the most recent general election in the same district 16,815-26,903
State Senate District 1 Number equal to no less than five percent but no more than eight percent of the total number of voters who cast ballots at the most recent general election in the same district 2,401-3,841
State House District 1 Number equal to no less than five percent but no more than eight percent of the total number of voters who cast ballots at the most recent general election in the same district 1,157-1,850

Any objections to nomination papers must be filed no later than five business days after the filing deadline.[17]

Write-in candidates

Write-in votes will not be counted unless the candidate files a Declaration of Intent to be a Write-In Candidate no later than 61 days before the election in which he or she is running. This form must include the office sought by the candidate.[5][18]

Write-in candidates may run in both the primary and general elections. If running in the primary election, write-in candidates must receive the majority of the vote to move on to the general election, just as any other primary election candidate. However, if the number of candidates on the primary ballot is less than the number of candidates the party is entitled to nominate to that office at the primary, then the write-in candidate may advance to the general election if he or she receives votes equal to or greater than the number of signatures required for that office.[5][18]

Petition requirements

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7 of the Illinois Statutes

In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain ballot access. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in Illinois.

Petitions

In Illinois, established party candidates, new party candidates and independent candidates must all file petitions to access the ballot, though signature requirements for those petitions vary depending on the office sought and the candidate's political party affiliation. Petitions cannot be circulated until the 90th day before the last day of the candidate's filing period. The circulator's statement on the petition must indicate that the petition was not circulated until after that date.[1][19]

Petition signature sheets must be of uniform size, numbered consecutively and bound together in book form with one edge secured. The header of each page of the petition should contain the same information.[1][19]

Petition signers must be registered voters and eligible to vote for the candidate whose petition they sign. Signers may sign the petitions of one established political party for the primary election and one new political party or independent petition for the subsequent general election. When signing, they must include their residence address.[1]

Circulators

Petition circulators must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. They may not circulate petitions for more than one political party, established or new, or for more than one independent candidate.[1]

The circulator must personally witness the signing of all signatures and sign the circulator's statement on the petition attesting to that. The circulator's statement must also include the circulator's address, age and citizenship information. The statement must be sworn to and signed before an officer authorized to administer oaths in Illinois.[1][19]

Petition challenges

Illinois has a reputation for having a strict State Board of Elections that at times removes candidates from the ballot after challenges to their petitions have been filed. In some cases, public officials have found it is easier to kick a candidate off the ballot than it is to put them on the ballot. Once challenged, candidates are usually either kicked off the ballot entirely or must focus most of their attention on their challenge cases rather than running for election.[20]

For example, John Cunningham, a candidate who sought election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, was removed from the ballot, appealed and regained ballot status and then removed again. Though Cunningham filed more than double the required number of signatures, hundreds were thrown out because his petition circulators came into question. He was first taken off the ballot because a paid petition circulator transposed two numbers on his address in the circulator's statement. After appealing, it was determined that the circulator's dyslexia was not a strong enough reason to take Cunningham off the ballot. However, when his case was brought to an appellate court, the court questioned whether two of Cunningham's circulators signed the circulator's statement in the presence of an officer authorized to administer oaths. After reviewing his petitions, the Board of Elections removed Cunningham from the ballot once again.[21][22][23][24][25]

In a local petition challenge case, Janet Hughes, a school board candidate in 2011, was disqualified from running for re-election because her petition was not bound together, as the statutes stipulate. The candidate's petition was thrown out in a unanimous decision by the District 113A electoral board after a public hearing.[26]

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

Candidates running for office may require some form of interaction with the following agencies:

Illinois State Board of Elections
Why: This agency is the authority on all laws, information and procedures dealing with elections.

Springfield Office:
2329 S. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield, IL 62704
Telephone: 217-782-4141
Fax: 217-782-5959
Chicago Office:
100 W. Randolph,Suite 14-100, Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: 312-814-6440
Fax: 312-814-6485
Email: webmaster@elections.il.gov
http://www.elections.state.il.us/

Illinois Secretary of State
Why: Statements of Economic Interests must be obtained and filed with this agency.

Office of the Secretary of State
Index Division
111 East Monroe
Springfield, IL 62756
Phone: 217-782-7017

Term limits

State executives

Portal:State Executive Officials
See also: State executives with term limits and States with gubernatorial term limits

Illinois does not place term limits on state executive offices.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

Illinois does not place term limits on state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

Portal:Congress
See also: List of United States Representatives from Illinois and List of United States Senators from Illinois

Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from Illinois:

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Illinois
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 1 11 12
     Republican Party 1 6 7
TOTALS as of September 2014 2 17 19

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Illinois:

State Senate

Party As of September 2014
     Democratic Party 40
     Republican Party 18
     Vacancy 1
Total 59

State House

Party As of September 2014
     Democratic Party 69
     Republican Party 47
     Vacancy 2
Total 118


See also

Figure 1: This is a reporting form for campaign contributions and expenditures for candidates running for election in Illinois.

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

Additional reading

Other information

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Illinois State Board of Elections, "State of Illinois Candidate's Guide 2014," Updated November 26, 2013
  2. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Election and Campaign Finance Calendar 2014," Updated July 31, 2013
  3. Illinois State Board of Elections Website, "Party Officials," accessed November 11, 2013
  4. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 Illinois State Board of Elections, "State of Illinois Candidate's Guide 2014," Updated November 26, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7, Section 2," accessed March 26, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 10, Section 2," accessed March 26, 2014
  8. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Ballots Cast: General Election 11/2/2010 Governor and Lieutenant Governor," accessed March 26, 2014
  9. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Ballots Cast: General Election 11/2/2010 1st Congress," accessed March 26, 2014
  10. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Ballots Cast: General Election 11/2/2010 1st Senate," accessed March 26, 2014
  11. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Ballots Cast: General Election 11/2/2010 1st Representative," accessed March 26, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7, Section 9," accessed March 26, 2014
  13. Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 10, Section 12," accessed March 26, 2014
  14. Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7, Section 10.1," accessed March 26, 2014
  15. Illinois State Board of Elections, "State of Illinois Candidate's Guide 2013," accessed March 26, 2014
  16. Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7, Section 10," accessed March 26, 2014
  17. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Election and Campaign Finance Calendar 2014," Updated July 31, 2013
  18. 18.0 18.1 Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7, Section 59," accessed March 26, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Illinois Statutes, "Chapter 10, Section 5, Article 7, Section 10," accessed March 26, 2014
  20. Medill Reports, "Candidates' petitions subject to more scrutiny than their objectors’," January 19, 2011
  21. Daily Herald,, "Biggert to be unopposed in primary," February 2, 2012
  22. Chicago Tribune,, "Biggert now unopposed in GOP race," February 2, 2012
  23. Daily Herald, "Cunningham to face Biggert in 11th District," February 21, 2012
  24. The Beacon-News, "Cunningham’s ballot status back ‘in limbo’," March 7, 2012
  25. Chicago Sun Times, "Biggert challenger Cunningham’s congressional bid voided by court," March 15, 2012
  26. Chicago Tribune, "School board candidate removed from ballot after paperclip debate," January 5, 2011