For more than 85 years, Illinois law has declared that a newly qualifying political party must run a full slate of candidates or it is prohibited from running any candidates at all. On Sept. 23, reported Ballot Access News, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that this law is unconstitutional in its decision for the case Libertarian Party of Illinois v. Charles W. Scholz, Nos. 16-1667 & 16-1775.
“The full-slate law was especially harmful in the years when Illinois had cumulative voting for the lower house of the legislature, before 1981,” wrote Richard Winger in the Ballot Access News artice. “The cumulative voting law said that each district elected three representatives. If a ballot-qualified party only wanted to run one nominee in a district, then the voters were permitted to cast all three of their votes for that one candidate. Or, if a party ran two, then voters could give each of the two one and one-half votes. But, unqualified parties were forced to run a ‘full slate’, meaning three candidates. Thus their candidates couldn’t take advantage of the cumulative voting system.”
The U.S. District Court had previously ruled that this law is unconstitutional, and the Circuit Court upheld that decision.
The law has made life miserable for minor parties in Illinois for 86 years, and there have been many attempts to have it declared unconstitutional in the past, but they had all failed. The law did not apply to established parties.