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Candidates feel ‘cheated, violated, robbed’ after Pritzker enacts law ending slating

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(The Center Square) – Candidates eying ballot access say they feel cheated after Illinois Democrats in less than two days approved and enacted legislation to end the slating of candidates for the November election if they didn’t run in the March primary. They’re eyeing a potential lawsuit.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2412 Friday morning, less than two days after it was approved by the House and concurred by the Senate.

The measure brings about three non-binding ballot referendums for Illinois voters about In vitro fertilization, poll worker safety and property taxes. Another provision effectively ends the slating of candidates for the November election by Democrats or Republicans in races where no candidates for that party ran in the primary.

“It really does make sure that we don’t have backroom deals to put people on the ballot and run as a result of some small group of people in a smoke filled room making the choice,” Pritzker said Thursday before the Senate passed the measure. “So I think, to me, more transparency is better.”

Republicans said it changes the rules for the general election midstream. Democrats argued no one was officially slated, so there’s no harm.

The Illinois State Board of Elections told The Center Square on Friday they have already accepted some slating filings and despite the new law will continue to accept them under the original deadline of June 3. After that, there is the objection process. There could also be litigation from those objecting to the law, or from candidates on the ballot looking to use the law to block opponents seeking to be slated.

Juvandy Rivera was eyeing being slated as a Republican for the 3rd House District.

“I feel robbed, I feel violated,” Rivera told The Center Square. “I haven’t even been given the chance here to get on the ballot because this government … took that away from me, took that right. It’s unethical, it’s unprofessional, it’s un-American.”

Rivera, who works with children with special needs, said he never thought about running until primary day in March. There were no Republicans running in the primary for his district. State Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, had no Democratic primary opponent.

Leslie Collazo, a small business owner, was eying to be slated as a Republican for the 8th House District. She didn’t think about running for the office until she noticed no Republicans were running in the primary for her district. State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

At first, Collazo said she was shocked that Pritzker enacted the hastily passed measure, but then felt the lack of transparency was not surprising as Democrats pulled the rug.

“We had a deadline, we still had a few weeks to finish the work that we started and this bill completely stopped us in our tracks,” Collazo told The Center Square.

Before the law Pritzker signed Friday, the deadline for slating petitions was June 3.

James Kirchner, a businessman, was looking to be slated for the 13th Senate District. There were no Republicans running in the March primary. State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Kirchner told The Center Square. “The slating process, which I had just learned about, I had never heard about it before.”

Kirchner said he was in the process of getting all his signatures and paperwork turned in Monday, a little less than a month before the June 3 deadline, before the law was changed.

“I would like to say that this could be overturned or challenged or what have you,” he said.

To the prospect of a lawsuit against the law, Kirchner said he’d be interested.

“Any legal means I can take, I’d happily do, because this is just silly. It’s just silly that they would do something like this especially at the 11th hour,” he said.

Collazo said she would also join a lawsuit.

“If we have to fight it that way then we will,” she said. “I think this is really unfair especially for the community that I represent which is one of the poorest in the city of Chicago.”

Rivera also said he would join a lawsuit.

“Yes, for sure. Yes, definitely,” he said. “Everyone has a right for their voice to be heard. Everyone has a right to run for office … why are you taking these rights away from the people because it doesn’t benefit your or your party?”

Carl Kunz is seeking to be slated to the 31st House District.

“I was shocked by the arrogance of this legislation, especially backdating it to the current election cycle,” he told The Center Square. “I have put many hours and days into this 2024 election, rescheduling other family & work priorities. Just Wednesday, I walked for 7 hours, covering 6 miles, talking to constituents and telling them I planned to be on the November ballot. For the Democratic members of our General Assembly to pull such a stunt demonstrates the levels they’re willing to sink to stay in power. Disgusting. If a legal remedy to this violation of my constitutional rights (to be slated under the current law) to run for office exists, I plan to pursue it.”

There were three Democrats vying for that seat in the primary. No Republicans ran in March.

The Illinois State Board of Elections website shows the last day for established party managing committees to appoint someone to fill a vacancy when no candidate was nominated at the primary is June 3. The last day to file objections to nominating papers of all candidates who filled vacancies when no candidate was nominated at the primary is June 10.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024.

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