Illinois Changes the Rules Mid-Election: The Liberty Justice Center Sues to Defend Constitutional Right to Vote

May 13, 2024

The Liberty Justice Center has filed a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Elections for violating Illinoisans’ constitutional right to vote by repealing a campaign law mid-election.

Until now, if no one ran in a political party’s primary election, the party itself could nominate (or “slate”) a candidate, if the candidate gathered the required number of petition signatures. On May 3, however, Governor Pritzker signed into law P.A. 103-0586, which repealed that provision, effective immediately—targeting only races for the General Assembly while allowing other offices to continue the slating process.

P.A. 103-0586 was signed into law abruptly in the middle of an election season. It was introduced on May 1, when legislators replaced the entire text of a dormant, existing bill on another subject—Senate Bill 2412, which previously would have amended the Children and Family Services Act—with text that reformed the Illinois Election Code. The House passed the bill the same day. It was passed by the Senate the following day and signed into law as P.A. 103-0586 by the governor on May 3, less than 48 hours after its contents had been introduced.

On May 13, the Liberty Justice Center filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against P.A. 103-0586. If granted, the order will block the repeal from taking effect during litigation.

The Liberty Justice Center is representing multiple prospective candidates for the November 2024 general election, whose campaigns would be halted by P.A. 103-0586. Although these candidates began gathering signatures before the repeal was enacted, and before the June 3 deadline for collecting signatures has expired, P.A. 103-0586 prevents them from appearing on the ballot in November.

The Liberty Justice Center’s lawsuit argues that P.A. 103-0586 violates Illinoisans’ right to vote by changing the rules for ballot access in the middle of an election.

“P.A. 103-0586 removed the provisions of the Illinois Election Code that would allow candidates to access the ballot, after the process for filling vacancies on the ballot had begun,” said Jeffrey Schwab, Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center. “Changing these rules in the middle of the process is a blatant infringement on the fundamental constitutional right to vote, which also protects the right of a candidate to appear on the ballot. There’s no reason why these changes could not have waited until the next election cycle. We urge the Court to halt this repeal and allow this election to continue with the laws that were in force when it began.”

Collazo v. Illinois State Board of Elections was filed in the Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Sangamon County, Illinois, on May 10, 2024.

The Liberty Justice Center’s legal filings in Collazo v. Illinois State Board of Elections are available here.


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