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Illinois Bill for a Top-Two System

Illinois Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) has introduced HB 5913, which would establish a top-two primary in Illinois. The bill, as introduced, seems to include the presidential primary. If it does, then in November 2008, the only two presidential candidates who would have been on the ballot would have been Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Illinois already has an open primary, and any voter was free to choose either the Democratic, Republican, or Green primary ballot in Illinois in 2008. Obama received 1,318,234 votes; Clinton received 667,930; John McCain placed third with 426,777 votes.

Illinois has the earliest primary (for congress and state office) of any state except Texas. Candidates in Illinois primaries for 2014 were required to have filed on December 2, 2013. If Illinois had a top-two system, all routes to the November 2014 ballot would be closed off in early December 2013 (except primary write-in candidates could file a declaration of write-in candidacy in January 2014). Under current law, independent candidates and the nominees of unqualified parties can petition onto the November 2014 ballot by June 23, 2014, but that route would be blocked off if HB 5913 passed.

HB 5913 appears to prohibit counting write-in votes in November. It says no candidate can be certified for the November election except the two who came in first and second in the March primary. So even though the bill does not delete write-in space from the November ballot, it appears to block anyone from filing as a declared write-in for November.

6 Responses

  1. Joshua H.

    No, no, no, no, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I’m going to be contacting…I’m not sure, I’ll have to see if Bost is still the area’s state representative at the moment…my state representative in the next few days about this.
    I think the Illinois Green and Libertarian Parties, and any other person or entity against a Top Two type of system needs to join together to protest and otherwise voice dissent. We don’t need this kind of bullstuff coming to our state, it’s corrupt enough as it is.
    Thank you Richard Winger for the heads up!

  2. Demo Rep

    1. See 14th Amdt, Sec. 2 (which got MOST of the attention in 1866).

    2. P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. — NO primaries.

  3. Phil Huckelberry

    It went straight to Rules. It has no chance here because it directly undermines the Machine. Madigan etc. won’t give it the time of day.

    Fortner has been the most vicious anti third party member of the Illinois House. He really shows his colors here.

  4. Jim Riley

    It appears to be a work in progress. Illinois’s election code is such a mess it it is hard to amend.

    I think your interpretation of the presidential primary is in error.

    Illinois primaries nominate candidates for state offices, and elect candidates for party offices including the whole surfeit of committeemen and delegates to the national convention.

    The listing of presidential vote totals in the primary, is for use of the political parties. Some of the national delegates are elected directly by CD, but the remainder are chosen by the state convention. There is no immediate direct connection between presidential primaries and the presidential candidates who appear on the November ballot.

    So it would appear that the offices of Republican national delegate, Democratic national delegate, etc. would all be on the single primary ballot. This is similar to the situation in Washington, but in Washington there is only one party office and they don’t have a presidential primary. They were able to finesse the issue by permitting voters to “affiliate” with a party by voting for a candidate of one party for party office. The real solution is to rip the party business out of state law and state elections.

    The write-in provisions are ambiguous. It is unclear whether declared write-in candidates are “certified”. The Top 2 provision does use the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law” with respect to certification of only two candidates, but it appears that under current law the primary winners are certified, along with any petitioning candidates, with declared write-in candidates being additional. Illinois already has a sore-loser provision for failed primary candidates, similar to that in Washington.

    While the bill would eliminate the notion of affiliating with a party with respect to voting or signing a candidate petition, it appears to maintain the current connection to votes cast for the party at the previous election.

    It would be much simpler to totally generalize signature requirement (eg square root of the number of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election within the jurisdiction of the office).

    The bill would also repeal the section that defines qualified parties.

  5. Richard Winger

    I phoned the office of the state legislator who introduced the bill and asked if the bill applies to the presidential primary. His assistant said she did not know, but that the legislator himself would phone me and explain. However, he hasn’t phoned yet.

    • Jim Riley

      The presidential preference primary is specified in 10 ILCS 5/7-11, which is not modified by HB 5913. If you read that section you will see that the primary is only for measuring sentiment of the voters.

      Illinois also elects some national convention delegates by congressional district at its primary. Those candidates run as individuals (see results from 2012 on Illinois State Board of Elections website. Candidates for delegate may state their presidential preference, and if too many express the same preference, the presidential candidate shall choose which delegates may run with the candidate’s name.

      The election of these alternate delegates, along with a multitude of committemen, is covered by the proposed bill.

      Illinois could do something similar to what California did in 2000, and let the voter indicate their party preference on the ballot. Presidential preferences could be tabulated by party.

      In addition, Illinois could use the count of party preferences to determine party qualification, dispensing with petitions.

      Votes for party offices could be only counted if by affiliating voters. The political parties of course have a constitutional right to ignore all this state interference in their internal affairs.

      It is possible that HB 2913 does not apply to the legislature, since nomination of the legislature is for some reason in its own section (10 ILCS/5 8)

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