Illinois Democrats Muscle Through Changes to Cut Off Ballot Access and Advisory Question

Written by David E. Smith

Illinois State Democrats used their supermajority advantage this week to ram through changes to state election laws (right before an election) to hurt two groups of people: parents and Republicans. With lightning speed in 24 hours, Democrats unveiled and passed legislation that Governor JB Pritzker hurriedly signed which limits ballot access and adds three nonbinding referendums to the 2024 general election ballot.

The bill, SB 2412, was filed at the last minute and left no time for citizens to weigh in. The Illinois House voted 67 to 4 with 40 voting “present.” The Illinois Senate voted 35 to 3 with 18 voting “present.” By quickly adopting three referendums to the ’24 ballot, the Democrats torpedoed a citizen-led Parents Matter Coalition petition drive just days before it was going to turn in hundreds of thousand signatures volunteers had been gathering for a year to be on the ’24 ballot.

Our state Constitution provides two ways for advisory referenda to be on the ballot: 1) the state legislature can pass legislation by a supermajority, or 2) citizens can gather a required number of signatures. Our state Constitution limits the number of nonbinding referenda on a statewide ballot to three. So Democrats simply passed legislation in a few hours to put their three referenda on the ballot, thereby blocking the year-long effort led by citizens of the Parents Matters Coalition.

This coalition, led by former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives, simply wanted voters to answer a referendum question about parents’ right to be involved in minors’ medical decisions, particularly gender transition treatments and abortion. It was going to be a popular referendum for parents and citizens at the ballot box. That was kryptonite to Democrats.

You can read more about that development HERE, but rest assured, as a member of the coalition, Illinois Family Institute will continue to work with members to push back on bureaucrats who think they know better than parents.

In the same legislation, Democrats struck down a long-standing law that allows each political party to appoint candidates to run in the general election if no member of that party had filed nominating petitions for the primary. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, this would “give Democrats a significant advantage toward keeping their legislative majorities before any votes are even cast in the Nov. 5 general election.”

The Tribune continues by pointing out:

Under the measure, local political party organizations could no longer appoint candidates to fill out legislative ballots where the party did not field a primary candidate. Current law allows the appointment process within 75 days of the primary.

Republicans in the Illinois House responded to the controversial surprise move by voting “present” to the bill before walking off the House floor. Four Democrats voted against the bill that would amend ballot laws for the election cycle that began in March.

Illinois House Minority Leader Tony McCombie held an impromptu news conference in the Capitol Rotunda saying:

“But we don’t understand the sense of urgency right now, unless the goal – the end goal – is to stifle the democratic process through the changes on slating candidates.”

Watch their short two-minute news conference: