The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moran, District Judge.
In December, 1979, plaintiff Thomas J. Richards filed his
nominating papers for the office of Democratic Ward
Committeeman of Chicago's 20th Ward. His petitions contained
2083 signatures. On January 4, 1980, defendants in their
capacity as members of the Board of Election Commissioners of
the City of Chicago upheld an objection to the petitions on
the ground "that the petition signatures filed by the
candidate exceed the statutory maximum for election to the
office of Ward Committeeman, 20th Ward Democratic Party."
Richards was not certified as a candidate.
Thereafter on January 11, 1980, candidate Richards, together
with two voters from his ward, brought suit for declaratory
judgment and injunctive relief. Since the election will be
held March 18, 1980, plaintiffs sought immediate relief
requiring that Richard's name be placed on the ballot. Cecil
A. Partee, who is the incumbent ward committeeman and is on
the ballot, and Howard L. Stevenson, who objected to Richard's
petitions, petitioned to intervene and the petition was
granted. Leave was also granted to the Chicago Council of
Lawyers to file memoranda as amicus curiae.
After expedited discovery, this matter was heard on January
22, 1980 upon plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary and
permanent injunction. The court has also had the benefit of
numerous memoranda filed by amicus and the parties both before
and after the hearing.
For the reasons hereinafter stated, the defendants are
enjoined from failing and refusing to include plaintiff
Richards' name on the ballot and are directed to place his
name on the ballot as a candidate for Ward Committeeman,
Chicago's 20th Ward, Democratic Party, in the March election.
This case involves the maximum petition signature limitation
of Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 46, Sec. 7-10(i). That section, in
relevant part, provides that petitions for nomination as ward
committeeman in Chicago shall be signed by not less than 10%
nor more than 16% of the primary electors of the candidate's
party in his ward. Maximum signature limitations for ward and
township committeeman petitions and for primary nominating
petitions for wholly statewide office have been in effect
approximately 50 years. Their original purpose is unknown.
There are no such limitations in either the election or
nominating process for any other party office or nomination
for office in federal, state or local government, although
independent candidates for election and new political parties
are subject to maximum limitations.
The limitation is plainly stated in the statute and is
plainly described in publications of state, county and city
election authorities. The minimum number of signatures for
Democratic committeeman petitions in 1980 in the 20th Ward is
1073; the maximum is 1716. Both figures are plainly set forth
in the public election materials distributed by both the
county and city election authorities. Plaintiff Richards
testified that he was aware of the minimum and maximum
figures, that he intended to file 1695 signatures, and that
his filing of 2083 signatures was wholly inadvertent.
Plaintiffs and amicus urge that the Board's action in
denying Richards access to the ballot deprives them of their
fundamental rights to associate and to cast an effective vote.
Relying on cases in which election law requirements
substantially impaired access to the ballot, they contend that
the maximum limitation must be subjected to strict scrutiny
and that, unless it is the least drastic means of furthering
a compelling state interest, it must be struck down as
violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They further
urge a maximum limitation applicable to the ward committeeman
office and selected others but not to most electoral contests
in Illinois imposes an irrational and arbitrary classification
in violation of the equal protection clause. Finally, amicus
urges that the filing limitation imposes an unlawful chilling
influence on the political expression of candidates and their
supporters because it unnecessarily discourages solicitation
a legitimate means of political expression.
Those contentions argue too much. Substantial impairment of
the voters' ability to express their political preferences
necessitates strict scrutiny to determine whether there is a
compelling state interest served by the least drastic
alternative. See e.g. Illinois State Board of Elections v.
Socialists Workers Party, 440 U.S. 173, 99 S.Ct. 983, 59
L.Ed.2d 230 (1979). However, while the right of an individual
to be on the ballot is intertwined with voters' rights, the
right of a specific individual to run for office is not
fundamental nor is ". . . every limitation or incidental burden
on the exercise of voting rights . . . subject to a stringent
standard of review." Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134, 143, 92
S.Ct. 849, 856, 31 L.Ed.2d 92 (1972).
The constitutional sensitivity is to denial of access to or
excessive burdens upon any identifiable classification of
voters, not to a specific candidate or his supporters.
Trafelet v. Thompson, 594 F.2d 623 (7th Cir. 1979), petition
for cert. filed. If such burdens were demonstrated here, we
would necessarily searchingly inquire into whatever compelling
necessity for those burdens was advanced. But no such burdens
were shown. This is not a case in which high filing fees or
excessive signature requirements discourage access to the
electoral process. All the candidate had to do was count.*fn*
That, however, does not end the matter. As defendants
concede, there must be a rational basis for the maximum
limitation. Many of the election cases, whether applying a
strict scrutiny or a rational basis standard, have focused on
the state interest in an election system which requires
candidates to demonstrate a "significant modicum of support",
Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U.S. 431, 442, 91 S.Ct. 1970, 29
L.Ed.2d 554 (1971), in order that ballots not be laundry lists
of frivolous candidacies. Clearly that interest is not being
served here, as Richards filed more signatures than the
Two state interests are suggested. One is advanced by the
intervenors. They urge that the limitation prevents a
monopolization of signatures by an entrenched candidate, thus
preventing others from access to the ballot. There is nothing,
however, which presently prevents a candidate from going on
the ballot with signatures of voters who have also signed
petitions for his or her opponent. Briscoe v. Kusper,
435 F.2d 1046 (7th Cir. 1970), reh. denied 1971. No candidate can
monopolize the voting pool. Further, nothing suggests that
"monopolization" is other than a conceptual possibility.
Conversely, and contrary to the contention of amicus, it is
difficult even to conjecture that the filing limitation will
have any appreciable chilling impact on political expression
when there is no limit on solicitation. Indeed, both plaintiff
Richards and the incumbent intervenor testified that they tell
their supporters to seek as many signatures as they can or
The second state interest advanced by defendants is more in
keeping with the
Illinois Supreme Court's explanation in Lewis v. Dunne,
63 Ill.2d 48, 344 N.E.2d 443 (1976) that the purpose of Sec. 7-10,
generally, is to provide an orderly election procedure.
Unquestionably, providing an orderly election procedure is both
a rational state interest and a state responsibility. We are
dealing here, however, with the maximum limitations of Sec.
7-10(i). In the only reported case on that section, the
Illinois Appellate Court, while leaving the matter to the
inarticulated wisdom of the legislature, commented that ". . .
it is difficult to perceive the legislative wisdom in confining
maximum signature limitations only to State offices and to ward