Victory for Voters’ Rights: Illinois Court Sides with the Liberty Justice Center in Lawsuit Challenging Mid-Election Rule Change

June 5, 2024

On June 5, an Illinois court ruled that provisions of P.A. 103-0586—a law the Illinois General Assembly and Governor J.B. Pritzker rushed through in May, changing the rules for accessing the ballot in the middle of an active election cycle—violates the constitutional rights of fourteen candidates seeking to access the ballot in the 2024 general election.

The Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit to halt enforcement of the law on May 10, suing the Illinois State Board of Elections on behalf of multiple potential candidates for General Assembly seats in the November 2024 election, whose right to access the ballot would be violated by the Board’s mid-cycle rule change.

The new law ends the practice of “slating,” which political parties have used to place a candidate on the general election ballot when no candidate from a party ran in the primary election. Before the hasty passage of P.A. 103-0586, if no one ran in a political party’s primary election, the party itself could nominate (or “slate”) a candidate, provided the candidate gathered the required number of petition signatures. On May 3, however—less than 48 hours after P.A. 103-0586 was introduced through a controversial “gut and replace” maneuver—Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law, repealing the “slating” provision, effective immediately, in the middle of the slating process—when parties had already nominated candidates who had begun collecting signatures.

On May 31, ten additional candidates affected by P.A. 103-0586’s “slating” repeal joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs alongside the four who initially challenged the law.

On May 22, the Liberty Justice Center secured a court order that temporarily blocked the state’s ability to enforce P.A. 103-0586 against the plaintiffs during litigation, allowing the candidates affected by the bill to continue gathering signatures and submit their candidacy petitions to the Board of Elections.

On June 5, 2024, following a June 3 hearing, the Court made that preliminary injunction permanent, finding that enforcing the provision of P.A. 103-0586 which eliminates “slating” for General Assembly races in the 2024 election is unconstitutional. Today’s ruling allows the plaintiffs to seek ballot access under the rules that were in place when the election cycle began.

“We applaud the Court’s decision to halt enforcement of the provision of P.A. 103-0586 that prohibited our clients from using the slating process to access the 2024 general election ballot,” said Jeffrey Schwab, Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center. “The General Assembly can change the rules for elections, but they can’t do it in the middle of the game to keep challengers off the ballot. We are proud to stand up for these candidates and against yet another scheme to suppress competition in Illinois elections.”

The Liberty Justice Center continues to challenge overreach at every level of government, fighting for constitutional rights across the country.

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


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