SPRINGFIELD — Independent congressional candidate David Gill is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to temporarily halt a lower court’s order that his name should appear on the Nov. 8 ballot in the 13th Congressional District.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order Friday blocking the earlier decision from U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough until the appeal is settled. She ruled last month that the Illinois State Board of Elections should allow Gill to appear on the ballot even though he didn’t gather the required number of signatures on his nominating petitions.
The Illinois attorney general’s office, which is representing the elections board, appealed Myerscough’s decision.
After Gill, a Bloomington physician who’s previously run for Congress four times as a Democrat, collected only 8,593 of the 10,754 valid signatures he needed to earn a ballot spot, he challenged the requirement in federal court. He argues that it’s unconstitutional because it’s out of line with the requirements for major party candidates.
Gill’s would-be opponents, Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Democratic challenger Mark Wicklund of Decatur, each had to collect fewer than 740 signatures.
While Myerscough didn’t rule on the merits of Gill’s argument, she issued her Aug. 25 ruling because she said the candidate showed that he and his supporters would be irreparably harmed if he was left off the ballot. The elections board certified the ballot the next day with Gill’s name on it.
In its appeal, the attorney general’s office argued that the signature requirement is valid because the state has an interest in preventing ballot overcrowding and potential voter confusion. Allowing judges to override signature requirements would sow uncertainty over the whole process, the state argues.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment on the appellate court’s order.
Gill’s attorneys are asking the full 7th Circuit to vacate Friday’s order and hear the case quickly because the temporary decision could effectively settle the matter before all the facts are heard. Local election authorities are required to have absentee ballots ready to be mailed to military and overseas voters by Sept. 23.
Gill said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the appellate court’s order.
“I was very disappointed, particularly for the voters in the district,” Gill said. “I think that they deserve to have as many options as possible, and we’ve worked very hard to provide them with an option other than the two major party candidates. I think that most voters have come to recognize that neither of the major parties is looking out for their benefit.”
The appellate court’s order is further evidence of how the system is rigged against independent candidates, he said.
Meanwhile, the elections board is scheduled to hold a hearing Monday on objections to Gill’s nominating petitions.
Some of the objections former Macon County Republican Party Chairman Jerry Stocks filed against Gill’s petitions were put on hold after it was determined that he’d failed to collect enough signatures. After Myerscough’s ruling, however, the board decided to allow those matters to proceed.