Tripp v. Scholz, No. 16-3469 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 2014, two Green Party members sought to appear on the Illinois general election ballot as candidates for state representative. Because the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1) deemed the Green Party a “new” political party in both districts in which they sought ballot placement, both were required to obtain nomination petition signatures equaling 5% of the number of voters in the prior regular election for state representative in their district. The signatures had to be collected in the 90 days preceding the petition deadline, with each petition sheet be notarized. Neither candidate met those requirements. In their suit under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. State ballot access laws seek to balance state interests with “the right of individuals to associate for the advancement of political beliefs, and the right of qualified voters, regardless of their political persuasion, to cast their votes effectively.” The Supreme Court has never required a state to make a particularized showing of the existence of voter confusion, ballot overcrowding, or the presence of frivolous candidacies before the imposition of reasonable restrictions on ballot access. The signature and notarization requirements, even in conjunction with the 90‐day petitioning window and geographic layouts of the districts at issue, do not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendment.