State Election

Election board certifies ballot without term limits, Greens

The Illinois State Board of Elections certified the November ballot without a constitutional amendment on term limits and without an Illinois Green Party that just two gubernatorial elections ago captured 10 percent of the popular vote.

The board on Friday did not include an amendment backed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner that would have limited members of the General Assembly to eight years in office. While it had more than enough signatures, its backers have fought a losing battle in court – both lower and appellate courts have maintained that the amendment exceeded the narrow parameters set in the Illinois Constitution for citizen-led revision.

The appellate court ruled Wednesday against the proposal, and supporters on Thursday filed an emergency petition to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to weigh in and extend the Friday deadline for the election board to certify the ballot.

Board members also denied the entire slate of Green Party candidates for the executive offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and comptroller. A challenge to the party's petitions successfully lowered the number of signatures below the 25,000 needed for non-established parties to get on the November ballot.

The Green Party sued in federal court last July, alleging that the more stringent requirements for "new" parties to get ballot access is unconstitutional. But a federal judge on Thursday rejected the party's motion to be included on the ballot. While his ruling sympathized with some of the party's grievances, he said he could not put its executive candidates on the ballot by fiat and violate a signature requirement that past court cases have upheld as constitutional. He also chided the Greens for not taking the issue to court earlier, knowing the hurdles involved in getting on the ballot.

The party's gubernatorial candidate, Harvard attorney Scott Summers, said plaintiffs are still reviewing their legal options as to pursuing an administrative review. Election board members also tossed two Green state representative candidates and its U.S. Senate candidate from the ballot. However, the party is running candidates in two Illinois congressional districts and three for the Chicago area's water reclamation district.

"I remain hopeful that in future elections, voters throughout Illinois actually will select candidates – not ratify them," Summers said.

In 2006, gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney received more than 10 percent of the vote, which for four years made the party "established" under state law and lowered the threshold for getting on the ballot. In 2010, Whitney only pulled 2.7 percent of the vote.

Voters will have a third-party option for statewide offices – the Libertarian Party of Illinois survived a ballot challenge and its candidates for state executive offices and the U.S. Senate were certified Friday.

The election board on Friday also removed other third-party and independent candidates over signature and party affiliation requirements. It rejected the entire Constitution Party slate after a successful challenge left it about 5,000 signatures short of the minimum. Chad Koppie, of Gilberts, was removed as the party's candidate for U.S. Senate.

Among the independent candidates removed for governor and lieutenant governor Friday were Michael Hawkins and Kimberly Kusch, whose petition contained a total of two signatures.

The term-limits amendment backed by Rauner was one of two citizen-led amendment initiatives that failed. An effort to propose a constitutional amendment to take the job of redrawing legislative districts out of the hands of lawmakers also was successfully challenged on legal grounds.

But state lawmakers have put two proposed amendments on the ballot, one protecting voting rights and the other strengthening the rights of crime victims. Three more statewide advisory questions seek the public's opinion on insurance coverage of contraception, raising the minimum wage and whether millionaires should pay a higher tax to fund education.

Republican critics call the five total statewide questions a gimmick to increase Democratic voter turnout in the tight race between Rauner and Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

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