Chicago IL — Libertarians across Illinois are celebrating victory today as the State Board of Elections ruled to keep their candidates Chad Grimm for Governor, Alexander Cummings for Lieutenant Governor, Ben Koyl for Attorney General, Julie Fox for Comptroller, Christopher Michel for Secretary of State, Matthew Skopek for Treasurer, and Sharon Hansen for U.S. Senate on the ballot for the 2014 General Election.
The opposition, represented by the Republican Party of Illinois General Counsel John Fogarty, failed to nullify enough of the 42,986 petition signatures filed by the Libertarians to disqualify them, but it’s not because they didn’t try.
Party operatives combed through thousands of petition pages to identify 23,667 individual signature objections, which the Libertarians defended throughout a grueling 7-day, line-by-line review process in Springfield. While Libertarian volunteers were taking vacation days from work and carpooling to the State Board of Elections, the opposition bused in fresh loads of paid staffers each day.
The opposition resorted to hiring private investigators and trumped up accusations against 38 Libertarian circulators, forcing the Libertarians to launch a legal defense, provide evidence to support their circulators, and have circulators and an Illinois notary testify at State Board of Election hearings.
Opposition staffers were paid to interrogate petition signers, fishing for inconsistencies and asking voters to sign affidavits renouncing their signatures. There’s no need to imagine the chilling effect this will have on future ballot access drives, as Julieus Hooks, a petition signer who was accosted by an armed private investigator told the Chicago Sun-Times, “Next time somebody asks me, I’m not signing nothing. I don’t care what the petitions are for.”
So, while victory is sweet, it comes at a high price for future elections in Illinois and also for the current one, as Libertarian volunteers and funds were diverted to the petition defense and Libertarian candidates were sidelined from the campaign trail for two full months. But in spite of all the obstacles, the candidates are eager to resume campaigning for liberty and integrity in an Illinois that has been left bankrupt by the bipartisan status quo.
The celebration will continue at this year’s Libertarian Party of Illinois convention, September 12 – 14 in Bolingbrook. Bolstered by this win, a battle-scarred, but stronger Libertarian Party of Illinois looks forward to the challenge of Election 2014 and beyond.