Kent Redfield of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs Kent says the simple reason is Republicans and Democrats don't want them there.
"The rules are really stacked against third parties and independent candidates,” Redfield said.
He said the Illinois election system has been crafted by the two majority parties, and for that reason alone, it's very hard for third parties to appear on the ballot.
Lincoln Liberty party candidate Josh Dill understands the obstacles ahead of him. He was required to come up with about 15,000 signatures to make the ballot. It's something he said was impossible.
"The main message I was trying to get across is how unfair the ballot access laws are in Illinois," Dill said.
Dill said its unfair he needs to come up with thousands of signatures, or five percent of registered voters in the 13th Congressional District, compared to his Democrat and Republican opponents who need just 800 signatures to get on their primary ballot. Dill suggested two ways to even the playing field.
"The signature requirements be the same for all parties,” Dill said, “or have everybody in a primary. Have a full primary with Democrats and Republicans included and the best two go to the general election."
Out of 156 races in the state legislature and U.S. Congress, 14 races have third-party candidates. But only seven have made the ballot without being objected to by either party.
Redfield said if a third party gets on a ballot and wins a minimum percentage of the vote, they can attain mainstream status and enjoy the same low signature benefit. But they must retain that rate each election to keep their mainstream title.
"You can lose your third party status and you have to start all over again,” Redfield said.
Three third-party candidates have applied for the gubernatorial ballot, but all of them are facing objections because both parties fear outside candidates.
"In a razor-thin race,” Redfield said, “that's going to make the difference."
Redfield said there is a valid reason to restrict third parties and that's to avoid a ton of candidates in one race. The final ballot must be approved by Friday August 22. The deadline is for all candidates as well as for the signature-based ballot questions, including establishing term limits and independent redistricting.
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