Judge Rebukes Democrats’ Attempt at Election Interference

Democrats threw quite a curveball in early May during the 2024 Spring Legislative Session, abruptly gutting a Senate child welfare bill and in less than 48 hours enacting legislation that changed Illinois election laws during the middle of an election cycle. The new bill changed the rules on how candidates for public office can get on the ballot for the upcoming November 2024 election.

The new law effectively ended the practice of ‘slating’ immediately. Under current election laws, political parties that did not have a candidate run in the March primary election had until June 3 to nominate or ‘slate’ a candidate to be put on the November ballot, provided that the candidate had turned in the proper nomination papers by June 3 to the State Board of Elections. 

Democrats’ hasty actions pointed to keeping several Republicans who were in the process of collecting nomination signatures off of the November ballot, in particular in one District in the Metro East where a Republican candidate that had not yet filed paperwork was seen as a legitimate challenger to his Democratic opponent. The new law retroactively required that candidates had to run in the March primary to be eligible for the November general election ballot; or run as a third-party candidate. 

House and Senate Republicans immediately called the changing of the rules midstream unconstitutional. All House and Senate Republicans voted ‘present’ on the legislation, which had a total of seven Democrat dissenters along with a handful that did not vote. 

“We don’t understand the sense of urgency right now, unless the end goal is to stifle the democratic process through the changes on slating candidates,” House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) stated.

On May 10, the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Elections, alleging the violation of Illinoisans’ constitutional rights to vote by repealing a campaign law in the middle of an election cycle. The lawsuit represented multiple prospective Republican candidates who had plans to file nomination papers within the 75-day window allowed from the primary date, which this year called for the June 3 deadline. 

On June 5, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Gail Noll granted a permanent injunction in the matter, blocking enforcement of the slating repeal for the current election cycle. The court ruled that it was unconstitutional to restrict ballot access, thereby restricting voter rights, under the law as it existed prior to May 3.

The ruling pertained to the current election cycle only, as Judge Noll indicated in her 12-page report. “The General Assembly could make the revisions effective for the next election, rather than in the midst of the current election,” Noll wrote. “Changing the rules to ballot access in the midst of an election cycle removes certainty from the election process and is not necessary to achieve the legislation’s proffered goal.” 

It is not known at this time if the State Board of Elections or Attorney General Kwame Raoul will appeal Judge Noll’s decision.

(Video) Rep. Miller and His Colleagues Respond to Elections Omnibus Bill