Petition Challenges in Springfield; Ballot Access

July 24, 2014

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The political process, for most people, is nothing more than enduring weeks and weeks of political ads before an eventual election day arrives where there will be record low-voter turnout anyways, followed by taxes being raised and maybe some politician going to jail on the nighttime news.

Of course, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that usually requires two things: endless volunteers and a boatload of cash. You can already see the problem for third party candidates. In Illinois, it is particularly bad.

First, we struggled for 90 days to not only reach the 25,000 signatures needed for ballot access, but to gain almost 43,000 because of the challenges we knew we would be hit with to knock us below the 25,000 threshold, which happened immediately.

Then we spent 7 full business workdays in Springfield defending those signatures. Volunteers from all over the state came out on their own time – missing work and using up vacation days to defend our signatures in a line by line verification process that is designed to eat up our resources.

Who challenged us? The Republican Party, worried that we take away votes from them that could cost them an election – despite the fact that we actually earn more votes from Democrats in Illinois than we do Republicans. No matter. We stepped up and brought our A game.

Of course, the Republican Party leaders themselves didn’t come down to fight in the long and tedious process – they sent kids, some of whom aren’t legally old enough to drink, to do their dirty work for them. These young and bright kids showed up ready for a fight – and we weren’t what they expected.

They were coached early on to look at us as fraudsters and thieves – as though participating in the democratic process in Illinois somehow violates some right that they feel entitled to only for them. Once they began talking to us, they liked us. We would ask them, “Why are you here today? Why do you feel it is right to kick someone off of the ballot in this manner?” We told them our struggles, showed them photos of our stack of signatures and shared stories of our petitioning. Before you knew it, these kids began to sympathize with us, and in most cases actually stopped putting up a fight or even helped us identify some of the registered voters!

The Republican “generals” in charge at these challenges began to notice this, and would lecture the kids about why they were there, ordering them to not talk to us. I made a joke about one of them being their bossy dad, gaining laughs from the kids and angering the uptight conservative.

They would bus in new kids every day, and every day we would talk to the new group and educate them on who we were and what we believed – and every day we came through. When your only strategy is to lie and deceive your volunteer supporters (some of whom we learned were paid to be there) in order to get their loyalty, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you can’t win elections. It is at points like this when you learn first-hand that the Republicans and Democrats are no different from each other when it comes to power.

By the end of the seventh day, our 42,986 signatures had been whittled down to 30,179 which is still well more than what we need to be on the ballot.

Of course, they won’t stop there. There are STILL challenges against the petitioners themselves, including the author of this article. I was accused of everything from fraud to not even living at my own address. This is laughable. I even took photos of myself at every petitioning event I did and posted them live on social media, multiple times a week.

But none of that matters. When a chance to gain political power is at stake, even conservatives who claim they love freedom of speech and think competition is a great thing will throw all of those rules out the window in a desperate gasp for winning the governorship.

The Libertarians should be on the ballot in November in Illinois. For that matter, so should the Green Party, the Constitution Party and any independent candidate who wants to peacefully take part in the political process by running for office. Everything wrong with Illinois, from corrupt politicians who rewrite district maps on the fly to support certain candidates over others to ballot access laws that prevent good people from running are at the heart of why Illinois has people and businesses fleeing the state.

Citizens of Illinois deserve better. If the state and its political parties will not provide that, then eventually there will be no one left to vote for anyone and no one to tax to help pay for all those bad ideas.


Downers Grove Independence Day Parade

July 9, 2014

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After warming ourselves up with the Memorial Day Parade in Itasca back in May, the DuPage Libertarians decided to step up our game and tackle the Independence Day Parade in Downers Grove. With our good friend Jason taking the lead with our banner, we were ready!

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Just like in Itasca, we were joined by four candidates. Candidate for US Senate Sharon Hansen rode in the back of the truck along with candidate for Treasurer Matt Skopek. Paul Clark, the Chair for the Libertarian Party of Will County and campaign manager for Sharon Hansen, was kind enough to bring his pickup truck and ferry our candidates through the parade.

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Candidate for Secretary of State Chris Michel preferred to ride his bike throughout the parade with his son Joshua, catching a lot of attention and cheers from the crowd – the beautiful American flag that waved from behind him helped a lot, too.

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Our last candidate was Ben Koyl, running for Attorney General. Ben is the local hero, living in Downers Grove and representing the hometown guy. At his own expense, he printed up a banner for himself, designed by DuPage Libertarian member Jeni, and carried by members Josh and Noah.

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We also had three gentlemen, all named Steve, carrying signs and a flag straight through the center of our crew. The flag always gets a big pop from the crowd, and we always have it carried by someone who keeps it held high.
It couldn’t be a successful parade without candy, and we had Claire, Meaghan, Nazli and Natalie passing out plenty of it to kids all along the route.

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After having taken such a long hiatus of parade marching, it seemed appropriate to keep things as simple as possible while still being effective at broadcasting our message. Our message, which I loudly orated from the front of our group, was simple: we are your local Libertarians, we have candidates on the ballot in November, we are not millionaires or career politicians, if you want change then you need to change the way you vote, and if you want to break the two-party system then we are your only third option in Illinois.

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Keep following our progress here at our blog. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, and everyone is welcome to join us for all the fun. We hope everyone had a great Independence Day. Thanks again to the 19 volunteers who came out and helped make all of this possible.

All photos taken by Claire Ball.


Libertarian Press Conference at the Capitol in Springfield

June 24, 2014

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This past weekend was one of the busiest and most productive ones for the Libertarian Party of Illinois – and the DuPage Libertarians were involved throughout the process.

Monday, June 23rd was the deadline to turn in petitions to the State Board of Elections for ballot access for our seven statewide candidates in the Illinois November election for 2014. Political Division Director Lex Green and his wife, Membership Director Karen Green, hosted a weekend of petition gathering that involved everything from signature verification to punching holes and stamping numbers.

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Collecting petitions from petitioners all across the state is laborious and tedious work. It cannot be overstated how much the Libertarian Party of Illinois owes to Lex and Karen for taking charge in the organization and implementation of this task.

Public Relations Director Steve Bosak wrote and published three press releases over the past few weeks to entice journalists in Springfield to attend a press conference that we had scheduled for 1pm in the media room inside the capitol building. Part of the offer promised a free Jimmy John’s lunch to those who attended, partially as a representation of our “freaky fast” press conference and also as an omen to large businesses who are leaving the state. Steve worked with our Communications Division Director Crystal Jurczynski to help put together all our information and talking points, with copies available to the attending journalists.

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The second press release included this photo of our promised visual aid – our large petition stack along with representations of the petty requirements from the other two main parties in the state. It gained some traction and created quite a buzz, eliciting many comments of curiosity as well as the nickname “shroud of turn-in.” We would unveil our surprise at the conference.

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On the morning of the deadline, the giant stack of petitions that we turned in to the State Board of Elections contained 43,921 signatures, gathered from all across the state of Illinois. It was large, it was heavy, and it was a lot of work! Everything went smoothly – there was no one else in the lobby, so we spent some time taking pictures while state officials worked through our paperwork. Candidate for Governor Chad Grimm, Lt. Governor AJ Cummings, Comptroller Julie Fox and US Senate Sharon Hansen were on site for the turn-in.

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Afterwards, we headed toward the capitol for our 1pm Press Conference. After meeting up with candidates for Attorney General Ben Koyl and Treasurer Matt Skopek, we were then greeted by nine journalists in the media room. All photos were taken by DuPage Libertarians Chair Brian Lambrecht and Secretary Jennifer Floyd.

Our “freaky fast” press conference was planned to be brief and to the point, but journalists wanted to ask questions about ballot access and our lawsuit with the state on election fairness, and then proceeded to question our governor candidate about his vision for Illinois. At one point, our Attorney General candidate Ben Koyl was asked about his qualifications and what he thought about Lisa Madigan.

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As you can see in the above photo, our visual aid was a representation of the signatures we are required to collect in comparison with those of the two major parties in Illinois. The striking contrast helps us illustrate how the rules are unfairly written to keep third parties out of the political arena in Illinois, and shows a perspective many people may have never realized about the political process in our state.

Almost 45 minutes later the press conference came to an end. Candidates were asked a few questions individually, business cards were traded and networking took place. Within hours half a dozen articles on our press conference were online.

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Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make this happen. None of this could have been possible without the help from volunteer petitioners, members of our chapters, donors, those who helped assemble the petitions and paperwork, those who reached out to the media, our candidates for tirelessly working to get themselves out there, and everyone who was with us in Springfield. Thanks again.

Now, on to the campaigns!!

 

Photos taken by Jeni Floyd and Brian Lambrecht


Supporting Local Libertarians Has Never Been Easier

June 4, 2014

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There is something for everyone to do with the DuPage Libertarians, and I do mean EVERYONE. You don’t need to have specialized technical skills, huge finances to run a campaign, or super-human powers to be an active member of a local political group. All you really need is a little free time and the willing drive to have some fun with like-minded people.

Being concerned about our state running up massive debt, the county abusing property rights or your village raising taxes doesn’t mean that our work is boring and complicated. Our meetings are not full of angry people rioting against the system and wrought with heavy discussion about Constitutional law. On the contrary – our meetings are generally full of fun discussions, craft beer and lots of laughter. Everyone who wants to be heard at our meetings has a voice.

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So what have we done in the last month? Well, first there was the HUGE Petition Drive Fundraiser, where people from across the state came to meet our candidates and bid on unique and interesting items in an auction, while enjoying good live music. You can read all about it in our last blog.

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There was also an antique weapons show, full of collectors of all kinds checking out guns from WWII and swords from the American Civil War to much of the modern stuff of today. We had a booth where we greeted people, introduced ourselves and even managed to score some signatures in these final weeks of the Petition Drive.

Members even met up for small petitioning events; a race in Darien, a train station in Downers Grove, a farmer’s market in Frankfort. Spending an hour or two with friends and fellow members to help out the party can be a great experience.

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A few of us even met other local politicians, including Representative of the 11th Congressional District of Illinois Bill Foster.

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The easiest and most fun filled event was hands down the Memorial Day Parade in the Village of Itasca. Four of our candidates came out and marched with us down the side streets of beautiful Itasca to greet her citizens. If there was ever an event for friends, members and volunteers to jump on board with, this was it. It doesn’t get much easier or more fun to promote your local political group than this.

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Candidate for Lt. Governor AJ Cummings and candidate for Comptroller Julie Fox rode comfortably in the back of a convertible, waving to people and saying hello. Candidate for Attorney General Ben Koyl walked alongside the car, carrying signs and greeting people on the curb, while candidate for Secretary of State Chris Michel walked with his wife and three children – two of whom were on their bikes, whizzing around decorated in red, white and blue.

The rest of us supported them when needed and promoted the group – David carried our banner at the head of the fleet, Jay and Steve carried signs to support our troops, Thomas kept the American flag held high and I spoke directly with the people about who we were and what we stood for.

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Claire and Linda, each who hold a title of Chair for their respective townships in DuPage, made cute matching outfits promoting the DuPage Libertarians and stuffed their pockets with candy to hand out to the kids. They barely had enough, running out just as we hit the end of the parade route.

Afterwards, a group of us met back at my place where we grilled some food and talked about the entire weekend, which also included a parade in Dundee with Julie Fox and the Fox Valley Libertarian Party. We all accomplished a lot.

We have more parades coming up on Independence Day, and in several towns increasing the chances of one being close to you. At the end of June, we have a press conference in Springfield inside the capital building. The five-day long DuPage County Fair is also coming up in late July. These are all great events to join in on and help spread the word of peace, liberty and honest government through the libertarians.

Come out and get active; our next meeting is Thursday, June 19th at the American Tap Pub & Grill @ 701 W. Lake St. in Addison, IL. The meeting runs from 7pm – 8:30pm, but the “meet and greet” starts as early as 6pm. Grab some food, have a drink, find out what projects and events we have coming up – and get involved!

 

Photos taken by Jeni Floyd and Brian Lambrecht


DuPage Libertarians More Active Than Ever!!

May 23, 2014

The DuPage Libertarians have been much more active this year. We started out by producing several videos that depicted the importance and challenges of the Petition Drive, we hosted several Candidate Workshops which proved very beneficial to the candidates and the state party as a whole for a multitude of reasons, we’ve done several outreach events that include everything from gun exhibitions to attending debates, and we’ve been leading the way in signature gathering in the state (as of the date this was published).

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One more recent thing that we did was host a Petition Drive Fundraiser to help raise cash for the Petition Drive in Illinois. Collecting signatures for third party candidates in Illinois is such a daunting task, that while many signatures are gathered by volunteers, others are collected by paid professional petitioners. That requires money.  So the DuPage Libertarians set up an event at Club Amore, a bar in River Grove, IL just outside Chicago, with live music and an auction of many nice things to raise money.

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The event was a success! Five statewide candidates attended, as well as one local representative, who all gave speeches, conducted interviews and worked the crowd talking to supporters and potential voters. Candidates included Chris Michel for Secretary of State, Julie Fox for Comptroller, AJ Cummings for Lt. Governor, Chad Grimm for Governor and Sharon Hansen for US Senate. Jonathan Parker, running for the 37th district in the Illinois House of Representatives, also gave a speech and greeted voters.

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Jim Goebel brought out recording equipment and conducted interviews with most of the candidates for his podcast program The Side Project hosted at RadioFUBAR.com – you can hear it live every Saturday morning at 9am Central time.

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The live music of the night was performed first by acoustic musician Jason Kluss, followed by the much louder alternative punk rock stylings of NatureDevil. At one point, Lt. Governor AJ Cummings joined NatureDevil onstage from behind the drums, and the Illinois Libertarian 2010 candidate for Governor Lex Green played the bass.

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Money was raised by the auction of many unique items, some of which were rare, others being unique to libertarian politics, while others were fresh baked and delicious. Ron Paul posters, economics books and an autographed graphic novelization of the first Constitutional Convention were popular with libertarian-minded buyers, while fresh baked cookies, cinnamon bread and even sugar-spice bacon were won over by the more hunger bidders. A few guitars, a pair of zombie slippers and Cubs tickets rounded out the auction to help with the overall fundraiser.

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We would like to thank everyone, and we do mean EVERYONE, who came out and made the night a success. If you would like to get involved in more of our projects, don’t hesitate to contact us, follow us on twitter @DuPageLiberty or attend our meetings every third Thursday of the month at the American Tap Pub A Grill @ 701 W. Lake St. in Addison, IL at 7pm.

 

Photos taken by Jeni Floyd


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