Petition Challenges in Springfield; Ballot Access

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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.

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