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September 7, 2017: "Nomination."
Today, I'd like to talk about the way judicial candidates get on a ballot so voters can actually vote for them (or, in this case, to vote for me). Executive Summary: It's time for me to collect signatures for my nominating petitions to get on the ballot -- please contact me about helping me to get on the ballot!
From my earlier articles, we know that Circuit Judges in Illinois are elected, that at-large positions (like the one I am seeking) are filled by the voters from all the counties in the Circuit, that there will be a primary election next March (i.e., when Democratic and Republican voters each choose their respective candidate) and, finally, that the primary winners face off in a general election in November 2018. These rules apply to judges just as they do for governors and dog-catchers, but how do they get on the ballot in the first place?
Contrary to popular belief, candidates don't just walk into some office and say "put me down for senator this year," nor is there some kind of general store where patrons come in and ask "Do you have anything in a 4-year off-presidential cycle I could try on?" Instead, a candidate for public office figures out the position he/she wants, gathers the necessary information from the state election board, fills out a stack of entry documents and then goes out into the community to collect signatures. Specifically, a candidate must go find citizens who live in the district and convince them that he or she should be listed on the next voter ballot.
Candidates do this by circulating "nomination petitions," which are pre-filled forms obtained from the Illinois State Board of Elections. Candidates or people who support them (known as "Circulators") go from place to place seeking voters willing to sign a document saying that the candidate is worthy of a space on the ballot.
In my case, the nomination petition is attached below. It lists who I am, where I live, the position I'm seeking and the party whose nomination I am trying to win.
The vacant position I am seeking to fill is that of former Circuit Judge Harry E Clem, who retired last year. I have appeared before Judge Clem since my earliest days as an attorney (1998) and I have a great deal of respect for him.
The nomination petition states that I am seeking the nomination from the Democratic Party. For a lot of people, my party affiliation means that the next 6 months of this campaign may not be terribly interesting. For instance, if you are planning to vote in the Republican primary next March, or if you plan to sign the nominating papers for a Republican candidate this cycle, I can't ask you to sign my nomination papers.
It is important that I focus on the signatures that will qualify me for the election, because I must collect at least 500 of them to get on the primary ballot next March. I plan to go door to door for this purpose, starting today. I will continue to do so through the Fall, and then, in late November, I will turn in the signatures I have collected to the State Board of Elections. If all goes well, the Board will then certify me as a candidate for the Primary Election.
If you identify as a Democratic voter and wish to lend a hand, you can (1) sign my petitions, and (2) volunteer as a Circulator of my petitions. I can train you on how to collect signatures correctly. Doing this helps me get qualified for the ballot and helps get my name out through the Circuit.
Regardless of your party affiliation, there are also several things that all of my supporters can do to help my campaign between now and March 20, 2018. These include:
Today begins the real work, and a long, long campaign trail beckons; I am hopeful that you will help me complete this journey. If you are able to sign my petition, circulate my petitions, or otherwise help out, please contact us -- we appreciate your support!
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