Illinois Green Party: HB 6000 is the ‘Machine Protection Act’

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On February 23, Democrats advanced House Bill 6000, which would limit
potential challengers in future aldermanic elections in Chicago.  The
bill significantly raises signature requirements in every ward, and
also gives well-financed, entrenched aldermen a new way to get
opponents thrown off the ballot.
HB6000, which passed the House Elections and Campaign Reform Committee
on a 5-4 party line vote, would raise the petitioning requirement in
Chicago aldermanic races from 2% of the votes cast in a given ward in
the previous election to a flat 500 signatures.  This would mean an
increase in every ward, and an over 400% increase in some wards.
The bill also prohibits a voter from signing more than one petition,
which could mean that excess signatures can be used by a candidate to
invalidate the signatures their opponent has collected.  A
well-financed incumbent could flood a ward with workers the first day
of petitioning, and effectively block other opponents from being able
to collect valid signature to launch a challenge.
“Chicagoans are fed up.  We’ve watched public assets privatized in
mostly closed-door deals; schools closed and services cut while the
mayor controls massive TIF slush funds; and constant scandal involving
bribes and kickbacks,” said Phil Huckelberry, Illinois Green Party
Chair, and a resident of the Logan Square neighborhood.  “Voters are
ready to throw Daley’s cronies out of office.  So here comes Mike
Madigan to the rescue.”
“The intent here is to ensure that nobody gets on the ballot that the
mayor doesn’t want on the ballot.  End of story,” said Alberto
Bocanegra, Cook County Green Party Chair and resident of the
Brighton Park neighborhood.  “House Bill 6000 is nothing more than
a Machine Protection Act.”
“We challenge the aldermen of Chicago to speak out against this bill,
and the General Assembly to say no to doing any more favors for
Richard Daley,” said Tom Tresser, Green Party candidate for Cook
County Board President and resident of the Old Town neighborhood.
Tresser’s opponent this November, Toni Preckwinkle, is the incumbent
4th Ward Alderman. “The Mayor has already appointed 17 aldermen to
their current positions and will appoint two more shortly (to replace Flores
and Carrothers). The City Council is already a rubber stamp for Daley and
this proposed legislation will make it even harder to challenge his puppets.”
As written, there are likely legal issues with HB6000.  The signature
requirements for some wards would exceed 5%, which would violate the
constitutionality test in the U.S. Supreme Court case Jeness v.
Fortson.  And in 2009, a similar law in Rhode Island that prohibited
voters from signing multiple petitions was stricken down in U.S.
District Court.  (That case, Fontes v City of Central Falls, is being
The law would be particularly onerous as it applies to wards in
minority neighborhoods, especially Latino wards.  In the two lowest
voter-turnout wards of the city, the 12th and 22nd on the near
Southwest Side, signature requirements would more than quadruple.
Since the effective result of the law would make it particularly hard
for minorities to run for office, it may also run afoul of the 14th
Amendment and Voting Rights Act.
“Latinos in Chicago are sick of being bossed around by the mayor and
his lackeys,” said Bocanegra, who ran for 12th Ward Alderman in 2007
and is considered a particular target of this legislation.  “People
want their elected officials to be accountable to them, not to the
Machine.  It’s no big surprise to see the Democrats making yet another
power play to maintain control for their friends and family.”

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