The "Democracy Now" Easy Ballot Access and Voter Restoration Project Petition Signature Reform Advocacy Campaign Press Conference on
MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2010 AT 8:00 AM at
69West Washington


The Voter Restoration Project Plans Field Hearing

Nominating Petition Reforms

MarkAllen, lead organizer of the Voter Restoration Project, a voter-rightsand public policy community organizing campaign of the Black LeadershipDevelopment Institute (BLDI) aimed at reforming the political nominatingprocess that favors incumbents, today, along with coalition partner,the Monroe Foundation, announced plans for " A Community PoliticalAccountability Hearing and Advocacy Campaign On Petition Signature Reforms", to be held later thismonth. Location and Time will be sent out next week. Lance GoughExecutive Director and Atty. Langdon Neal, Chairman of The Chicago Boardof Elections have indicated their willingness to work with The VoterRestoration Project, hear testimony and support public policy changes.

Allen, a veteran political activist including being a former National staff member to the Rev. Jesse Jackson Srand FieldDirector for Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, former Voter Education Specialistfor The Chicago Urban League, and founder of the Black LeadershipDevelopment Institute (BLDI). a community organizing training center forBlack organizers, will invite elected officials and policy-makers withthe Chicago and State Board of Electionsto hear testimonies fromcitizen-voters who believe they have been historically disenfranchisedfrom votingfor the candidates of their choice because of the current petitionsignature challenge process where thousands of voters whose currentsignature is valid when obtaining actual ballots to vote on electionday, yet ruled illegitimate on petitions because that same signature nowdoes not look like the signature on their original voter registrationcard.

The Voter Restoration Project is seeking registered voters, previously disqualified candidates whofeel disenfranchised by this current electoralprocess that favors established party candidates and incumbents andsupport public policy reforms on the petition signature process. .

- Some of the Proposed Reforms are:


RSVP for the Voter Restoration Project Field Hearing By Emailing

Organization(if applicable)

Mark Allen
Black Leadership Development Institute/Voter RestorationProject
449 East 35th Street, 1st Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(773) 392-0165


Ballot Access (by Jay Stone)

Reduced Required Signatures for Mayor from 12,500 to 350 or 700

The current requirement of 12,500 signatures to get on the ballot for mayor of Chicago is 10 to 25 times higher than it should be. Limitingpolitical competition is the one and only reason for the excessivenumber of signatures to run for mayor of Chicago. Experts recommendcandidates file three times the number of required signatures becauseof the ease in which challenged signatures can become invalid. SinceChicago requires 12,500 signatures, if candidates follow the advice ofexperts, they will file 37,500 signatures.

After doing research, Stone carefully chose 350 valid signatures to get on the ballot for mayoral candidates who pay a $300.00 filing fee or700 signatures if candidates choose not to pay filling fee. Stone didnot arbitrarily come up with his number of required signatures to get onthe ballot. His number of signatures to run for mayor is the result ofan analysis of other cities’ ballot requirements (explained below).

Stone does not believe in total access to get on the ballot. Total access would allow anybody to get on the ballot by merely requesting todo so. Stone believes in minimal ballot access restriction to eliminatepeople who just want to see their name on the ballot. Requiringcandidates to collect 350 or 700 signatures to get on the ballot islarge enough to attract only serious candidates for mayor, but not toolarge that it will keep qualified candidates off.

Typically hundreds of candidates will apply for a single job. Why not have 5 or 10 candidates seeking the job of mayor of Chicago? In theirlast municipal elections, 12 candidates ran for mayor of New York, 10candidates competed for the mayor of Los Angeles, and 10 candidatessought to become the mayor of San Antonio.

Avoiding voter confusion was the reason politicians previously restricted ballot access. Politicians asserted that if there were easyaccess to the ballot, a large number of candidates would burden andconfuse the voter. The voter confusion myth was dispelled when 135candidates ran for California governor after Governor Gray Davis wasrecalled. According to newspaper accounts, 135 candidates did notconfuse the voters or cause them to vote for the wrong candidate.

350 to 700 signatures to get on the ballot for mayor of Chicago would not create a massive or confusing amount of candidates, but it wouldcreate political competition. Is there anything wrong with having morecandidates for mayor touting their ideas to improve Chicago?

Table A lists the 10 largest cities in the U.S. The table compares each city’s population, number of signatures to get on the ballot formayor, and the number of days each candidate has to collect thesignatures. For example, Chicago has a population 2,853,114 people. Acandidate for mayor must collect 12,500 valid signatures within thespecified 90 day time period. Now you can compare what it takes to geton the ballot for mayor in Chicago with that of Los Angeles, New York,or San Antonio.

When you compare the number of signatures other cities require to run for mayor with Chicago, you can clearly pinpoint how ballot access isone of the ways Chicago and state of Illinois politicians purposelylimit political competition. For example, the city with the closetpopulation to Chicago is Houston. The city of Houston requires nosignatures if candidates pay a $1,250.00 filing fee. If Houston mayoralcandidates don’t want to pay a filing fee, they must submit 587signatures to run for mayor compared to the 12,500 signatures Chicagorequires.

Los Angeles has nearly one million more people than Chicago but only requires 500 signatures if a candidate pays a $300.00 filing fee, or acandidate must submit 1,000 signatures if a candidate refuses to pay afilling fee. The City of Los Angeles with one million more people thanChicago requires only 4% (filing fee) or 8% (no filing fee) of Chicago’srequired 12,500 signatures.

New York city has a population nearly three times the size of Chicago.Does New York city require three times as many signatures torun for mayor than Chicago does? Hardly. Though New York city’spopulation is nearly three times larger than Chicago, New York requiresonly 3,750 signatures, or 30% of the 12,500 signatures that it takes toget on Chicago’s ballot.

The City of Phoenix has a population that is 55% less than Chicago, but Phoenix’s requirement of 1,500 signatures to get on the ballot is12% of Chicago’s 12,500 signatures. Furthermore, candidates cancirculate petitions in Phoenix for twice the amount of time (180 days)as Chicago (90 days).

Number of Signatures to Run for Mayor

CityPopulationNumber of SignaturesNumber of Days
New York8,363,7103,750 Valid Signatures35 Days
Los Angeles3,833,995500 Valid Signatures with $300.00 filing fee25 Days
Los Angeles3,833,9951,000 Valid Signatures if Candidate Pays No Filing Fee25 Days
Chicago2,853,11412,500 Valid Signatures90 Days
Houston2,242,193No Signatures Required if Candidates pay a $1,250 Filing FeeDoes Not Apply
Houston2,242,193587 Valid Signatures90 Days
Phoenix1,567,9241,500 Valid Signatures180 Days
Philadelphia1,447,3951,000 Valid Signatures for Partisan Candidates21 Days
San Antonio1,351,305No Signatures Required. Candidate Pays $100 FeeDoes Not Apply
San Antonio1,351,305361 Valid Signatures Required if Candidate Pays No Filing FeeUnavailable
Dallas1,279,910473 Valid SignaturesAs Soon As the City Council Publishes Election Date
San Diego1,279,329200 Valid Signatures with a $500 Filing Fee29 Days
San Diego1,279,3292,200 Signatures if Candidates Pay No Filing Fee29 Days
San Jose948,27950 Minimum Valid Signatures

60 Maximum Valid Signatures

25 Days

Table A

A Democrat or Republican candidate for governor of Illinois needs 5,000 signatures compared to 12,500 signatures to run for mayor ofChicago. It takes 2/12 times the number of signatures to run for mayorthan it does to run for Governor. The mayor of Chicago represents 2.9million people and the Illinois governor represents 12.9 million people.The IL governor represents 4.5 times the number of Chicago residentsand yet a candidate needs 2.5 times the number of signatures to get onthe ballot for mayor compared to a candidate for the governor ofIllinois. The same onerous and restrictive ballot access for mayor alsoapplies to candidates running for city clerk and city treasurer.

The Number of Days to Collect Signatures

The number of days that Chicago candidates have to collect signatures is also a tool to restrict political competition. For example, for the2011 mayor’s race, candidates can start to collect signatures on August24. However, Chicago weather plays a factor in how many signaturescandidates can collect. In October, the weather starts getting colder,and it starts to get dark earlier in the evening. Furthermore, inOctober the clocks are turned back one hour later. Less daylight hoursin the fall reduces the amount of time candidates have to collectsignatures. Chicago’s colder weather and reduced daylight hours isanother reason why Chicago should decrease the number of signatures toget on the ballot to 350 if a candidate pays a filing fee or 700 if acandidate does not pay a filing fee.

Chicago should increase the number of days it allows candidates to circulate petitions for mayor from 90 days to 180 days. Phoenix allowsmayoral candidates to collect signatures for a 180 days. Given Chicago’sinclement fall weather and reduced daylight hours, it is only fair thatcandidates have more time to collect signatures.

Chicago’s current 12,500 number of signatures to run for mayor and the cool, dark, fall Chicago weather heavily favors the candidate whohas the support of the Chicago political machine. Even with the Shakmanmonitors watching over city and county governments, each Chicago wardstill has 20 to 80 patronage workers ready at a moments notice to go outand collect signatures for a machine candidate. The machine can stillcrank out 25,000 signatures in seven days if it needed to.

Mayor Daley and his lackeys will tell you the number of signatures to get on the ballot is irrelevant because in the last two municipalelections no mayoral candidates were challenged off of the ballot. Thethreat of a ballot access law suit was the real reason Mayor Daley andhis minions did not challenge any mayoral candidates. By not challengingthe petitions of candidates for mayor, the court has not had anopportunity to reduce the number of signatures needed to run for mayor.The fact that the 12,500 signature law exists means there is apossibility that someone can legally challenge a candidate based on thishighly restrictive ballot access law. For once let our government beproactive, not reactive. Let our city and state reduce the number ofsignatures required to run for mayor to 350 with a filing fee or 700with no filing fee before a lawsuit requires the city and state to doso.

The Number of Valid Signatures Per the Number of People

As with Table A, Table B includes the names of the 10 most populated U.S, cities, the population of each city, and the number of signatureseach city requires to get on the ballot for the mayor of that respectivecity. The fourth column in Table B comes from dividing the populationof the city (Column B) by the number of signatures (Column C). Theresult is the number of signatures per residents for that particularcity. For example, New York city requires one signature to run for mayorfor every 1,115 people that live in New York city.

The higher the number of signatures a candidate has to collect per population, the greater the city has ballot access. For instance, let’scompare ballot access for mayoral candidates in Chicago and Los Angeles.Depending on whether a candidate pays a filing fee, it takes acandidate for mayor in Chicago to collect either 17 or 34 times moresignatures per resident than Los Angeles.

A Chicago candidate for mayor has to collect one signature for every 228 citizens that live in Chicago. Houston, which has the closetpopulation to Chicago, requires one signature for every 3,819 citizensif a candidate opts not to pay a filing fee. If Houston mayoralcandidates pay a filing fee, Houston candidates don’t have to collectone signature.

The required number of signatures per citizen is a fair way to compare each city’s ballot access with one another. Chicago is fivetimes more restrictive than Phoenix because Chicago candidates have tocollect one signature per every 228 residents compared to Phoenixcandidates who must collect one signature for every 1,045. Besides beenless restrictive with the number of signatures required, Phoenix alsoallows mayoral candidates double the amount of time to collectsignatures (180 days) for its candidates than Chicago (90 days).

Look what will happen if Chicago were to adopt Stone’s idea of reducing the number of signatures to get on the ballot. With 350signatures and a filing fee required to run for mayor, Chicagocandidates would collect one signature per every 8,152 residents. If 700signatures were required to run for mayor, candidates will then collectone signature for every 4,076 Chicago residents.

Number of Signatures Per Capita

CityPopulationNumber of SignaturesNumber of Signatures Per City Residents
New York8,363,7103,750 Valid Signatures2,230
Los Angeles3,833,995500 Valid Signatures with $300.00 filing fee7,668
Los Angeles3,833,9951,000 Valid Signatures if Candidate Pays No Filing Fee3,834
Chicago2,853,11412,500 Valid Signatures228
Phoenix1,567,9241,500 Valid Signatures1,045
Philadelphia1,447,3951,000 Valid Signatures for Partisan Candidates1,447
San Antonio1,351,3053613,743
San Diego1,279,329200 Signatures If Candidate Pays Filing Fee6,397
San Diego1,279,3292,200 Signatures if Candidates Pays No Filing Fee582
San Jose948,27950 Minimum Valid Signatures

60 Maximum Valid Signatures


Table B

More Ballot Access for the Offices of City Clerk, City Treasurer, and Alderman

The number of signatures required for a city clerk or city treasurer candidate is 12,500. If city clerk and citytreasurer candidates follow political experts advice, their nominatingpetitions will have 37,500 signatures. Limiting political competitionand protecting machine candidates are the reasons why Chicago requires12,500 signatures for city clerk and city treasurer candidates.

Jay wants to reduce the number of signatures for city clerk and city treasurer from 12,500 signatures to350 signatures if candidates pay a $300.00 filing fee or 700 signaturesif candidates do not pay a filing fee.

Each of Chicago’s 50 aldermen has approximately 60,000 people living in his or her ward. The number ofsignatures required to run for alderman is 2% of the ward’s aldermanicvote in the last election. For a candidate’s name to appear on theballot for alderman in Chicago, the number of signatures range from alow 88 signatures in the 12th ward to a high of 429 signatures in the19th ward. The number of signatures to run for alderman in the otherwards falls between 88 and 429 signatures.

An independent candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, state comptroller, attorney general, and U.S. senate all need signaturesamounting to 1% of the number of total voters in the last election. Acandidate for alderman must submit 2%, which is double the number ofsignatures for that of candidates for higher Illinois offices.Furthermore, the Illinois General Assembly decided that Chicagocandidates shall have no party affiliation. By law, Chicago candidatescannot declare Democrat, Republican, or Green party. Why shouldcandidates for alderman be required to have twice the number ofsignatures than independents when the Illinois General Assembly decidedthat Chicago political office seekers must run as non-partisancandidates? Candidates in Chicago are held to a standard higher than anindependent candidate without having the choice to run as an independentor run with a party affiliation.

Now lets compare the number of signatures it takes for a candidate to run for alderman versus the number ofsignatures that are required to run for mayor of cities in Table A andB. In some cases more signatures are required to run for a Chicagoalderman than are required to run for mayor. For example, San Jose with apopulation of 948,279 requires 50 signatures to run for mayor, which islower than the number of signatures to run for alderman in every wardin the city. Furthermore, the San Jose mayor represents 948,279 peopleand a Chicago alderman represents about 60,000 people.

Houston has a population of 2,242,193 and San Antonio’s population is 1,351,305. Yet, both Houston and San Antoniodon’t require any signatures for candidates for mayor if the candidatespay a filing fee. Why is it harder to run for alderman in Chicago thanit is to run for mayor of cities with populations much larger than whatan alderman represents?

First Jay is calling for all alderman submitting the same number of signatures for their nominating petitions.Aldermen represent the people in their ward regardless of whether theirconstituents voted or not. Since each alderman represents about thesame number of people, each alderman should be required to submit thesame number of signatures with their nominating petitions.

Jay is calling for the number of signatures to run for alderman in all wards to be reduced to 35 signatures if acandidate pays a $100.00 fee, or 60 signatures if a candidate opts notto pay a filing fee.

The purpose of nominating signatures is to separate the serious candidates from those who only want their name toappear on the ballot. Too many candidates for alderman have had theirpetitions successfully challenged, which means candidates names were notallowed to appear on the ballot. Other candidates have won theirchallenges, but machine candidates use petition challenges to tie uptheir challengers’ time and money. The lowering of the number ofsignatures to run for alderman increases political competition andeliminates machine alderman using nominating signature challenges tounduly stop or hinder their challengers’ campaigns.

2 Responses to Ballot Access

New York city voters voted on November 2, 2010 to amend the city charter, so that the new requirement to run forMayor of New York city is 3,750 signatures, not 7,500 as the chart aboveshows. So Jay’s case is even stronger than his chart above says. Ihope his webmaster amends the chart.

JayStone says:

Richard, you are right. New York residents voted to lower the number of required signatures to 3,750. Imade the changes above. It would be nice if Chicago residents were giventhe opportunity to vote on election laws. Richard, I appreciate you andyour help.

Jay Stone

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of TheBlackList Pub to add comments!

Join TheBlackList Pub