Illinois’ candidate filing period doesn’t serve the public interest.
Would-be public officeholders and longtime incumbents alike were busy Monday filing their petitions for next year’s elections.
They included everyone from Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who filed his papers with the State Board of Elections, to down-ballot candidates in each of the state’s 102 counties who filed at their local clerk’s office.
It’s a biennial filing process that this year lasts from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2, and it’s one of the many things that’s wrong with politics in this corrupt state.
No, it’s not the filing that is the problem — it’s the timing. The early filing period is so ingrained in Illinois that most people just accept it as a given, which it is but doesn’t have to be.
Why are candidates for important public offices required to file their papers almost a year in advance? Why is Illinois’ primary election held in the cold of March when the general election is not held until November? Why? Why? Why?
The answer is because the powers that be see the skewed timing as a factor to their advantage.
If Gov. J.B. Pritzker really is interested in political reform in Illinois, this is one of the issues he could take on that wouldn’t cost a dime. Of course, he’d get serious push-back from Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, so nothing is going to change.
But it’s worth noting that forcing prospective candidates to plan so far in advance limits the field. Further, events occurring in February, March or April 2020 that might generate political interest will come too late to permit candidates to run.
A March primary, when the weather is cold, will reduce turnout in a way that benefits traditional political groups. Illinois, of course, has bigger problems. This is a smaller one that can, but won’t, be fixed.