Illinois judge rules against 'slating' law that would have kept GOP candidates off the 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," the Republicans' attorney said.

Published: June 6, 2024 3:02pm

An Illinois judge this week ruled against a law enacted by Democrats that effectively prevented Republicans from running for the state legislature in the November general election.

On Wednesday, Sangamon County Circuit Judge Gail Noll ruled in favor of 14 Republicans seeking to run in state legislative races by striking down a law Democrats passed that would have kept them from being placed on the November ballot, the Cook County Record reported.

The new law had changed state election rules to prevent political parties from slating their candidates to run in the general election if they hadn't initially ran in their party's primary election.

Noll said that the law was unconstitutionally enacted to change election rules in the middle of the election cycle.

"The revisions (as enacted under the new law) are unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs in the November 2024 general election because the application of the amendment to Plaintiffs during the 2024 election cycle impermissibly burdens their right to vote and to have their names placed on the November ballot," Noll wrote.

"The timing of the amendment, which eliminated one of the methods for ballot access that was available at the beginning of the election cycle after the March primary election had taken place, precludes Plaintiffs from having their names placed on the November ballot under any statutorily available method," she added.

Noll's decision requires the Illinois State Board of Elections to put the 14 prospective GOP candidates on the November ballot. Her ruling only applies to the 2024 general election.

"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 Liberty Justice Center attorney Jeffrey Schwab, who represents the Republicans.

“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," Schwab added.

Before the law was enacted, political parties without official nominees for an elected office in the primary election had 75 days after the primary to "slate" a candidate to run as their nominee in the general election.

The deadline for political parties to slate their candidates was June 3. However, six weeks after the March 19 primary, Democrats quickly enacted the legislation, completely changing the election rules before the deadline.

Republicans had planned to use the slating process for its candidates that would run against Democratic incumbents in November and argued that the new law was election interference and infringed on their rights.

Democrats claimed that the law was to ensure that party nominees for state General Assembly seats were chosen by party primary voters.

The new law essentially ensured that a minimum of 53 incumbent Democrats in the General Assembly wouldn't have any challengers in the November election. A total of 138 state legislative races are on the ballot in the general election.

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