We know, we know: Politics ain’t beanbag. But politics doesn’t have to be rotten and nefarious either. Yet oodles of people who run for office in this state will tell you of strong-arm tactics they endured, sometimes from their own party, to get their names on an Illinois ballot. It’s shameful. Sincere candidates who believe in public service spend months walking door-to-door collecting signatures — one of the purest elements of democratic elections — only to get kicked off the ballot through dishonest means. The latest allegation of skulduggery accuses Republican Party leaders of trying to remove Libertarian Party candidates from the Nov. 4 ballot, ostensibly to protect GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner would compete more easily in a one-on-one race with Gov. Pat Quinn with no Libertarian candidate siphoning off votes. Rauner says he knew nothing of the alleged intimidation.
The Sun-Times has reported that armed investigators who work for Palos Township GOP Committeeman Sean Morrison’s security firm visited the homes of people who had signed or circulated Libertarian petitions. The newspaper cited two examples of security company employees, with holstered weapons visible, allegedly telling the people that the petitions were fraudulent — a lie — and urging them to retract their signatures.
If true, this was a last-ditch effort to invalidate Libertarian signatures after a two-month fight at the State Board of Elections. Allies of the Republican Party had challenged the Libertarians’ signatures line by line — then dragged petition circulators before the board to testify about their signature-gathering. The elections board found the circulators to be credible and enough of their signatures to be valid. So the Libertarian Party’s statewide slate will appear on the ballot.
But now it’s late August. The Libertarian Party — which needed 25,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot while the two major parties needed only 5,000 — is now months behind and resourced out.