The Illinois Green Party has received official notification that its candidates will appear on the general election ballot this November. Last Monday, the party submitted petition sheets with more than 50,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office in Springfield, enough to survive a challenge from either of the two established parties. Assuming that Jill Stein wins the nomination, her name will appear on the ballot in her native state.
By "we," I mean my beloved partner Kayleen and I. She went to Chicago for the final week of the petition drive. I planted the idea in her mind in the first place and bought her a round-trip ticket on Amtrak. It was not a difficult decision: She was not working at the time, and she loves Chicago.
It's not as if Illinois is a super-difficult state when it comes to ballot access for third parties. It does require about 25,000 valid signatures from registered Illinois voters who did not sign any other party's petition. The petitioning window is (I think) 90 days. Unlike in Texas, there is no additional requirement of not having voted in another party's primary election that year.
Still, this is a major accomplishment, and it took a lot of work from hundreds of dedicated volunteers. The number of signatures is more than half what Texas would require, and Illinois has only about half the population of Texas.
Kayleen collected 55 signatures in about five days, mostly canvassing on the elevated train platforms during the work day, when the trains arrive every twelve minutes. That 55 doesn't seem like a large number, 0.1% of the total; however, as a veteran of several Texas petition drives, I can tell you that some devoted Green partisans don't collect 55 in the entire 75-day petitioning period.
Chicago is known as a heavily Democratic city. Despite Chicago's long history of bad-apple Democrats, a substantial percentage of Chicagoland residents are fiercely protective of the Democratic Party, and of Chicago's other native daughter Hillary Clinton. These Democrats do not want competition on their left. But scratch the surface, and you can also find thousands of Greens, socialists, anarchists, independents, and even progressive Democrats who are fed up with the Democratic machine. The trick is in finding them.
Nancy Wade, the coordinator of the Illinois effort, told Kayleen that she (Nancy) can sometimes collect 20 signatures per hour. That takes a combination of skill, experience, mobility, dexterity, and knowing exactly where the likely signers can be found. Nancy was kind enough to play host to Kayleen for the entire week in her Northside home. Kayleen camped on the sofa in the basement, which was more to her needs than the guest room upstairs, rechristened "Jill's Room" because Dr. Stein herself has stayed in it.
One peculiarity of note: The Illinois Greens had to submit names of nominees for all the statewide offices, even though the GP presidential ticket is not yet established. As this blog has noted previously, the ticket will be nominated on 6 August, at the Greens' Presidential Nominating Convention in Houston. As of now, Jill Stein is listed as the presidential candidate on the Illinois ballot, with Bill Kreml for vice president. Kreml received the second-most votes in Illinois's Green presidential primary held in February.
Also running for statewide offices in Illinois this year are Scott Summers for US Senate and Tim Curtin for State Comptroller. Summers is running for the seat currently occupied by freshman Republican Mark Kirk. (Rep. Tammy Duckworth is the Democratic nominee.) Thanks to some egregious Democratic chicanery, Kirk won the 2010 special election to fill the seat left vacant in 2009 by one Barack Obama.
Yes, Republicans do get elected from the "blue state" of Illinois: Much of the state outside of Chicago (and Champaign-Urbana), including the suburbs, leans Republican. Eight of the state's eighteen House seats have Republican butts in them. This is why Illinois is considered a battleground state in 2016, and Kirk-Duckworth race is likely to be close.