MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The named plaintiffs, Clinton A. Krislov and Joan A. Sullivan, brought suit on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated individuals against the defendants, officials of the Illinois State Board of Elections ("State Board of Elections"), claiming that certain ballot-access provisions of the Illinois Election Code ("Election Code") and procedures employed by the State Board of Elections violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Both sides move for summary judgment on the issue of whether the Election Code provision requiring a petition circulator to be a registered voter in the candidates' "political division" is constitutional. For the following reasons, the defendants' motion is granted and the plaintiffs' motion is denied.
Mr. Krislov and Ms. Sullivan were candidates for federal office in the March 19, 1996 Democratic primary election. Mr. Krislov ran for the party's nomination as a U.S. Senator from Illinois, while Ms. Sullivan sought nomination as a Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives for the Seventh Congressional District. The State Board of Elections supervises the administration of the election laws throughout Illinois.
Pursuant to the Election Code, to be placed on the primary ballot, a candidate must gather a requisite number of valid nominating signatures. The plaintiffs' nominating petitions contained more than the requisite number of signatures. Objectors, however, challenged the validity of these signatures on various grounds set forth in the Election Code. One of the grounds upon which the plaintiffs' nominating petitions were challenged was that the circulators that collected signatures on the petitions were not registered voters in the political division the plaintiffs were seeking nomination. This is an Election Code requirement. 10 ILCS 5/7-10. The procedures for verifying the challenged signatures, established by the State Board of Elections, consumed the candidates' time, as well as financial and manpower resources. Mr. Krislov withdrew from the campaign; Ms. Sullivan continued, but lost the nomination.
Constitutionality of the Registered Voter Requirement
The plaintiffs claim that the requirement in Section 7-10 of the Illinois Election Code that the circulator of a candidate's nominating petition be a registered voter in the political division for which the candidate is seeking a nomination violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs contend that Section 7-10 severely restricts the pool of available circulators without any legitimate state interest.
Section 7-10 does restrict the pool of individuals who may be petition circulators. Section 7-10 requires that:
at the bottom of each sheet of [a nominating] petition shall be added a statement signed by a registered voter of the political division, who has been a registered voter at all times he or she circulated the petition, for which the candidate is seeking the nomination, stating the street address or rural route number of the voter, as the case may be, as well as the voter's city, village, or town....
10 ILCS 5/7-10 (emphasis added).
Accordingly, circulators must be registered voters in the "political division" the candidate is seeking a nomination. A "political division" is the district for which office is sought. (Zimmer Aff. P 4). Thus, Mr. Krislov, because he sought a nomination to the United States Senate, could utilize any voter registered in Illinois to circulate petitions. Ms. Sullivan, since she sought a nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Seventh Congressional District, could only use circulators registered to vote in the Seventh Congressional District. The defendants argue there are compelling state interests for Section 7-10's registered voter requirement.
A court deciding whether an election law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment must:
weigh 'the character and magnitude of the asserted injury to the rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments that the plaintiff seeks to vindicate' against 'the precise interest put forward by the State as justifications for the burden imposed by its rule,' taking into consideration 'the extent to which those interests make it necessary to burden the plaintiff's rights.'