By Mark Wachtler
April 22, 2014. River Grove. (ONN) Most voters aren’t aware that Republicans and Democrats need only collect a few hundred petition signatures to put one of their establishment candidates on the Illinois election ballot. But for reformers and opposition candidates, like those from the Illinois Libertarian Party, they need to collect roughly 40,000 valid signatures in order for their candidates to run for office here. So the next time some government official or news reporter suggests America has free and fair elections, feel free to laugh out loud.
Libertarian Party of IL's 2014 statewide candidates. Image courtesy of the Libertarian Party of Illinois.
The deadline for submitting ballot access petitions in Illinois is June 18th. With a little under two months to go, and beautiful weather to work with finally, the Libertarian Party of Illinois is more than on track to meet the state’s outrageous ballot access requirements. They seem to be well ahead of the game and looking to exceed both the number of signatures needed, as well as their fundraising goals to make it happen.
If trends continue, the Illinois Libertarians will see a two-pronged victory long before Election Day - they’ll collect the required 42,000 valid signatures and will do it without spending any of the donations raised for the effort. That would leave party leaders with thousands of dollars to put toward other priorities, maybe even some much-needed contributions to their own candidates.
Petition Drive rocking Illinois
With the Board of Elections’ 90-day window for collecting ballot access signatures about half over, the Illinois Libertarian Party is three-quarters of the way to their fundraising goal meant to pay for the effort, if needed. As organizers proudly proclaimed this week, LP signature collectors are “rocking Illinois.” The party’s candidates are relying on volunteers to collect the required signatures at first. If it looks like they’re going to fall short, the state party is ready to hire petitions circulators in the same way that Democrats and Republicans typically must do.
Absent any kind of tally of signatures collected so far, it’s impossible to tell how close the party is coming to their goal of 42,000. But if the number of volunteers and money raised are any indication, the LP will have no problem becoming ballot certified in Illinois for the November election, and they’ll do it without spending a cent.
"We are off to a good start," Illinois Libertarian Party Political Director Lex Green told us, "The enthusiasm and support we are receiving, from seasoned veterans and new members alike, is a solid leading indicator for the petition drive and for Liberty. But this is a marathon - we've got tens of thousands of signatures to collect and many thousands of dollars yet to raise for the drive."
Libertarians on a roll
A recent report detailing voter registration across America looked at the number of voters in each state officially registered as being a member of one political party or another. The study, carried out by Ballot Access News, clearly showed that from 2008 to 2014, the Libertarian Party was the only political party in America that grew in membership. All other US parties, including the Republicans and Democrats, lost members. That fact, based entirely on raw numbers provided by state Boards of Elections, verifies that Libertarians are being greeted by a more open and inviting population than in previous years. Read the Opposition News article, ‘Only Libertarians and Independents grew since 2008’ for more information and to view the actual numbers.
Illustrating the Illinois LP’s growing popularity, petition circulators have already been spotted collecting signatures in the bitter sub-freezing cold. With those being volunteers who couldn’t wait to get started, now that the warm weather is here, the LP’s army of petition circulators has most-likely grown exponentially. The state affiliate was also blessed with a donor who agreed to match all contributions until the party’s ballot access fundraising goal was reached. The party is nearly there already.
Rallies and incentives
Party officials admit they were surprised by the reaction they received when it was announced that they were giving away a trophy to the team that collected the most ballot access signatures. “A trophy will be awarded to the chapter that gathers the most signatures,” a recent Illinois Libertarian update announced, “This prize is so desirable, there is even, gasp, some trash talk going on between chapters.”
Another offer donated to help the LP’s petition effort comes from a local author and novelist. “Libertarian volunteer and author Steven Bosak will donate one hundred percent of sales of his eBook ‘Gammon’ between now and the end of the petition drive to the Libertarian party of Illinois,” a recent party announcement informed supporters, “Purchase ‘Gammon’ for Kindle on Amazon and you contribute the drive. It's a winning combination.” Readers can find a link to purchase the book in the column to the right.
Capping off their petition drive, the party will also be hosting a rally, concert and fundraiser on May 10th in River Grove. The blowout event will bring together volunteers, party officials and even the Libertarian Party’s statewide candidates for the 2014 General Election.
“Come out for an awesome night,” rally organizers invite supporters, “Jason Kluss will open the night with an acoustic set and later the NatureDevil band will take over to rock it out. Mixed in will be an auction, prizes, and a chance to meet several of our candidates. Will one of them perform on stage? You'll have to attend to find out. All proceeds will benefit the petition drive. Mark your calendar now - this is an event you won't want to miss.”
2014 Illinois Libertarian election candidates
Highlighting the Libertarian Party’s nationwide growth and popularity, the party’s Illinois chapter had no problem fielding a full slate of statewide candidates for the coming November election. The candidate slate may have grown since first reported, but as of last check, the following Libertarian Party candidates were already campaigning hard (from the Illinois Herald article, ‘IL Libertarians launch Ballot Drive for 2014 Candidates’):
The recent Illinois Libertarian announcement urged supporters and voters to get involved and volunteer to help the party’s election candidates this campaign season. “Our candidates are building their campaigns and deserve our support,” organizers remarked, “Alongside campaign volunteers, they are designing flyers, building websites, and crafting their Libertarian message to voters. They are working hard to represent you - let's get them on the ballot.”
For more information, visit the Libertarian Party of Illinois.
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