Federal court improves ballot access

Federal court improves ballot access

By Jim Tobin-Libertarian party

Federal court improves

ballot access

The Illinois State Board of Elections legal staff confirmed that recent federal court decisions will indeed effect changes in ballot access. As of Sept. 5, 2000, the ISBE cannot require petition circulators to be registered to vote, or residents of the political district in which they are canvassing.

The Illinois State Election Code’s registered-voter requirement was struck down by District Judge Robert Gettleman on July 21, 2000, in a ruling on the Tobin for Governor v. ISB case. This was the first time the court allowed its ruling on this issue to be enforced, which paved the way for tangible results in August.

According to an August 26 Chicago Tribune article, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, represented by Libertarian Party of Illinois attorney Andy Spiegel, was allowed on the Nov. 7 Illinois ballot because of Judge Gettleman’s decision.

On Sept. 5, another ruling on voter registration was affirmed by the federal appellate court in Krislov v. Rednour. Circuit Judge Manion of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, also struck down a requirement that circulators be residents of the district in which they’re petitioning, and questioned the constitutionality of a state residency requirement.

The ISBE sent a memorandum, dated Sept. 7, 2000, to “All Illinois Election Authorities” regarding Krislov. The memo explicitly states that “the State of Illinois can no longer require circulators to be registered voters or residents of Illinois, or the district in which the candidate is running.” This information is posted on the ISB web site (www.elections.state.il.us), which instructs election officials and candidates to “ignore any statement or recommendation in any of our publications which would require circulators to be registered voters.”

Although only the ISBE is mentioned in the federal court’s injunction, the two requirements were deemed unconstitutional, and so legitimate challenges cannot be made on those bases.

The ISBE is appealing Krislov to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is little reason to be concerned about this, however. Less than one percent of cases sent to the Supreme Court for review are accepted, and part of the issue has already been definitively decided. The Supreme Court ruled six to three in Buckley v. ACLF (2000) (a case referred to in both Tobin for Governor and Krislov, with positive results) that a Colorado law requiring petition circulators be registered voters was unconstitutional.

As for residency, the majority opinion in Buckley strongly indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court would affirm the Krislov ruling that district-residency requirements are unconstitutional. As long as the state can issue a subpoena to a petition circulator, which is simple enough if the circulator is a state resident who provides his/her current address, the state has no “compelling reason” to make stricter requirements.

Jim Tobin was the 1998 Libertarian candidate for governor.

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