Voting Booths Source: TFP File Photo

Liberty Justice Center Claims Victory Against Illinois Election Law Changes

Voting Booths Source: TFP File Photo
Voting Booths Source: TFP File Photo

In the ever-evolving landscape of electoral politics, the role of legal advocacy organizations like the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) has become increasingly crucial in safeguarding the fundamental rights of voters and candidates.

The LJC made headlines Wednesday with a landmark victory in Illinois, where they successfully challenged a controversial law that threatened to undermine the democratic process.

In May 2024, the Illinois General Assembly and Governor J.B. Pritzker hastily enacted Public Act 103-0586, a law that dramatically altered the rules for accessing the ballot in the middle of an active election cycle.

Read: State Of Illinois Embraces “Justice-Impacted Individuals” As Opposed To “Offenders”

This move, widely criticized as a blatant attempt to suppress competition, targeted a specific provision in the Illinois Election Code that allowed political parties to “slate” candidates in races where no one ran in the primary election.

Recognizing the gravity of this situation, the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) sprang into action. On May 10, 2024, the organization filed a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Elections, arguing that the provisions of Public Act 103-0586 violated the constitutional rights of fourteen candidates seeking to access the ballot in the 2024 general election.

Prior to the enactment of Public Act 103-0586, the Illinois Election Code allowed political parties to nominate, or “slate,” candidates in races where no one ran in the primary election, provided the candidate gathered the required number of petition signatures. However, the new law swiftly repealed this provision, targeting only races for the General Assembly while allowing the slating process to continue for other offices.

Read: Court Order Halts Mid-Election Rule Change In Illinois

The LJC’s lawsuit successfully argued that Public Act 103-0586 violated the constitutional rights of Illinoisans by changing the rules for ballot access in the middle of an election. In response, the Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Sangamon County, Illinois, issued a preliminary injunction on May 22, halting the enforcement of the law and allowing the affected candidates to proceed with the signature-gathering process and submit their candidacy petitions to the Board of Elections.

As the legal battle unfolded, the lawsuit gained additional momentum. On May 31, ten more candidates affected by the “slating” repeal joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs, further strengthening the case against the controversial law.

In a landmark ruling on June 5, the Circuit Court made the preliminary injunction permanent, finding that enforcing the provision of Public Act 103-0586 that eliminated “slating” for General Assembly races in the 2024 election was unconstitutional. This decision allowed the plaintiffs to seek ballot access under the rules that were in place when the election cycle began, a significant victory for voters’ rights in Illinois.

Read: Illinois Man Charged After Shooting His Female Neighbor In Horrifying Racially-Motivated Attack

The Liberty Justice Center celebrated the court’s decision, with Senior Counsel Jeffrey Schwab stating, “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. 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’s victory in the Collazo v. Illinois State Board of Elections case has far-reaching implications. It serves as a powerful reminder that the fundamental right to vote, which includes the right of candidates to appear on the ballot, must be zealously protected, even in the face of legislative attempts to alter the rules mid-election.

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