“Pritzker signs election bill that would favor Democrats in November”

The Chicago Tribune has this coverage of a new election law in Illinois that changes the rules of ballot access in the middle of an ongoing campaign:

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed into law a comprehensive election bill that would give Democrats a significant advantage toward keeping their legislative majorities before any votes are even cast in the Nov. 5 general election.

Democrats already enjoy legislative supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate thanks to district maps drawn by party leaders following the 2020 federal census that were crafted to minimize Republican opposition.

But the election bill given final approval by Senate Democrats Thursday, a day after the bill passed the House, would further help Democrats maintain control in the next General Assembly.

Under the new law, local political party organizations can no longer appoint candidates to fill out legislative ballots where the party did not field a primary candidate. Previous law allowed the appointment process within 75 days of the primary.

Capitol News Illinois has more. And The Center Square has a piece, “Candidates feel ‘cheated, violated, robbed’ after Pritzker enacts law ending slating.” (The bill does a lot of other things, too, like moving its quite early presidential nomination deadline up a month earlier, and adding three non-binding and unrelated referenda to the fall ballot.)

One can, of course, oppose the idea of “slating” and prefer that candidates petition, in the abstract and as a general matter. But, the reason many candidates did not petition was the fact that they relied on existing rules to allow them to be “slated” by the party for the general election. That rug has been yanked out from under them, leaving a number of uncontested elections in the upcoming election. Cold comfort offered here from one Illinois legislator: “‘A candidate who would want to run for General Assembly seat after the primary will have to run, as they can today, as an independent or a third-party candidate,’ Harmon said.”

While I typically prefer to share stories without a lot of editorializing, I want to take a moment to offer one small observation. I waited for a couple of day to see how other media outlets would cover the story. After all, we are in an era where there is an explosion in journalists who identify as covering the “democracy beat” or looking for a “democracy angle” in stories. I wondered how the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press, or CNN might cover these stories. After all, they are quite attuned to what local county officials in Nevada or Arizona are doing with respect to counting ballots, or every twist and turn of an election bill in Georgia. How about this? As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any coverage in these or many other major media outlets of America’s sixth-largest state changing the rules of an election in the middle of the campaign to deprive hundreds of thousands of voters of the opportunity to choose a candidate of their preference, and as a number of candidates who behaved in a way relying on existing laws have lost their opportunity to seek office. But there is still time for coverage, of course, particularly as I imagine litigation is coming.

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