Court Denies Local Ballot Access

On February 7, 1996, the federal court in Chicago, Illinois, denied ballot access to the Libertarian Party of Illinois in local races even though the party had won statewide ballot access.

As a result of the November 1994 general election, the LP-Illinois became an "established party" under the Illinois Election Code. The state board of elections at first confirmed LP-Illinois could participate in the primary election for all statewide and local offices, in a December 13, 1994, letter from A. L. Zimmer, General Counsel of the State Board of Elections to Andrew Spiegel, General Counsel of LP-Illinois.

Shortly after confirming the established party status of LP-Illinois, the state board changed its mind and determined LP-Illinois could only run candidates in statewide races. Reversal of their previous confirmation came in a December 19, 1994, letter from Zimmer to Spiegel.

In Libertarian Party of Illinois, et al., vs. Wanda L. Rednour, et al., the LP-Illinois argued that certain state ballot access requirements were unconstitutional. The state argued the restrictions were necessary to prevent "voter confusion," that the addition of Libertarian candidates would "clutter" the ballot, and that it was constitutional to require LP-Illinois candidates to obtain over ten times the number of signatures required of Republican and Democratic candidates.

In February 1996, the court agreed with the state. Libertarian candidates may be listed on the ballot for statewide races (President and U.S. Senate in 1996), but not for local races (including Congressional and state legislature races in 1996). Candidates for local races must petition to be on the ballot as if they were candidates of a newly formed party. LP-Illinois is deciding whether to appeal the decision.

Oh, God forbid the voters have a real choice, that would clutter the ballot. We can't let voters really decide who gets elected; they're too easily confused. It's just so embarassing when a new party overcomes the obstacles placed in front of ballot access; we didn't really mean we'd let you on the ballot. Sorry, we changed the rules.

Source: February 12, 1996, news release from the Libertarian Party of Illinois.