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Third party presidential candidates file for Illinois’ ballot

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(The Center Square) – The list of presidential candidates to choose from on Nov. 5 may grow in Illinois. Six candidates filed for president as independent or new party candidates. However, two of the candidates, Christopher Cisco and Heather Lynn Stone, did not pass the apparent conformity standard and will not be certified to the ballot.

“Cisco filed one petition page with 10 signatures; Stone filed two pages with only her own signature on each. Apparent conformity means that by looking at the candidate’s petition filing, our staff can see that the candidate appears to have filed at least 10 percent of required signatures. For president, they needed 25,000 signatures,” Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich told The Center Square.

It is the first time an independent presidential campaign has reached the 25,000-signature requirement to be displayed on a presidential ballot in Illinois. Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., along with other third party candidates, filed before the 5 p.m. deadline on Monday.

Superstar Kanye West fell short of qualifying for the 2020 Illinois ballot as an independent presidential candidate by 1,300 signatures.

Alisa Kaplan, executive director of Reform for Illinois said, generally, it’s pretty difficult to get on an Illinois ballot as a third-party candidate.

“Illinois, in general, is unfriendly to third-party candidates. There’s higher signature requirements and it’s harder to get on the ballot. You could say that’s because the two big parties are trying to hold on to as much power as possible, but you could also say it’s to make sure candidates that get on the ballot are serious,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan explained there is zero percent chance a third party presidential candidate wins because Illinois, like most states, are “winner take all” states when it comes to electoral college votes. Kaplan said third party candidates act as “spoilers” and voting for them could have unintended consequences.

“If you vote for one of these third-party candidates that have no chance of actually winning you’re going to help one of the two-party candidates and it might not be the one you prefer to help,” said Kaplan. “This is why we advocate for ranked choice voting. If we had ranked choice voting for presidential candidates, there wouldn’t be this spoiler effect.”

Kaplan said ranked choice voting allows voters to choose more than one presidential candidate and rank them in order of their preference.

“Say, Kennedy is your first choice and Biden is your second choice and then if it becomes clear Kennedy won’t win, your vote would then get redistributed to Biden,” said Kaplan. “There you know exactly where your vote is going if your first choice isn’t going to win. You have more than one chance to affect the outcome.”

Kaplan said the Cook County clerk has been resistant to allowing Evanston to utilize a ranked choice voting system. Eighty-two percent of Evanston voters in 2022 voted for ranked choice voting in municipal elections.

With rank choice voting, “voters wouldn’t feel like they have to vote strategically and try to figure out, ‘well I have to vote for the lesser of two evils and I have to vote for one of the two big parties, otherwise my vote will be wasted,’” said Kaplan.

The Illinois Ranked-Choice Voting and Election Systems Task Force has been meeting with an eye on bringing about ranked choice voting for the 2028 presidential primary. Some elections officials have raised concerns ranked choice voting would confuse voters looking for unofficial election outcomes.

Objections to the third party candidates can be filed through 5 p.m. July 1. So the four third party candidates’ petitions that passed the apparent conformity standard can still be objected to and they might not appear on the ballot alongside front runners, former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

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