Bad schedule is by design

Bad schedule is by design

Mayoral candidates in Champaign are at the starting line way too early.

Get this — 10 weeks before the November general election, mayoral candidates in Champaign received the legal go-ahead to start collecting petition signatures for the April 7 municipal election.

The petitions — requiring a minimum of just 85 signatures — must be on file in November.

Why start and then freeze a political process so far in advance, to the point that election seasons overlap? How does it serve the public interest to make the process so inflexible that it precludes would-be candidates from making more informed decisions about running closer to the actual election.

This is, of course, part and parcel of Illinois' screwy election schedule that serves the interests of political insiders.

Why did Illinois hold its primary election in March, roughly seven months before the November general election and during cold, winter weather that discourages turnout?

Why does Illinois hold municipal, school board and township elections in the spring, when it's guaranteed that relatively few voters will participate in these low-profile-but-still-important elections?

If, as our elected officials often say, it's important that people participate in the electoral process, why does state law mandate that elections be held at times that will assure minimum turnout?

Here's why — the rhetoric is a giant con.

March primaries, early petition gathering/filing periods and spring elections serve the interest of the powers-that-be by providing the organized insiders better ground on which to run and elect their candidates.

Illinois could go a long way toward improving its election process by further consolidating elections and scheduling them at times more opportune for average voters. But Illinois didn't get to be Illinois by putting the public interest ahead of the interests of the political pros.

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