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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Court Applies "No-Party-Switching Rule" To Keep Candidate Off Ballot

Illinois law has a "no-party-switching rule" that prohibits a candidate from running for office as an independent in a general election if that same candidate had either (1) filed a statement of candidacy for a partisan office in the preceding primary election or (2) had voted for an established political party at the preceding general election.  That rule was established in 2012, and was recently applied to disqualify a candidate for Lake County Coroner. 

Thomas Rudd sought office as an independent candidate for Lake County Coroner. His candidacy was challenged and an electoral board removed him from the ballot based on the "no-party-switching rule." Specifically, the electoral board found that because Rudd had filed nominating papers for the Democratic primary, he was disqualified from running as an independent in the general election.

The appellate court agreed with the electoral board, and ordered Rudd's name off the ballot. Rudd v. Lake County Electoral Board, 2016 IL App (2d) 160649. The court rejected Rudd's argument that since he had withdrawn his primary candidacy, he was eligible to file for the general election. The court held that there was no such exception in the Election Code. The court also rejected Rudd's constitutional arguments (Free Speech, Equal Protection), and found the statute constitutional. The court concluded that it was not a significant burden for Rudd to not file in the primary as a party candidate and not vote in the primary, as the "no-party-switching rule" merely requires a candidate to "think ahead one full year before becoming an independent candidate." As a result, Rudd was ineligible to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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