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County and state candidates can start circulating petitions — and they better not wait

Candidate packets for McLean County political races can be picked up at the McLean County Clerk's office or can be found online.
Candidate packets for McLean County political races can be picked up at the McLean County clerk's office, or can be found online.

Candidates for county and state offices and judicial seats in Illinois can start collecting signatures for the June primary — and they better get to it.

The state shortened the time to circulate petitions from 90 to 60 days this year because of the delay in approving new legislative maps. But candidates also will have about one-third fewer signatures to collect.

In McLean County, county clerk, sheriff and treasurer are all up for four-year terms. All 20 county board seats also will be on the ballot this year. After the November election, the winning candidates will take part in a lottery to determine which candidates get two-year terms and which get four-year terms. Precinct committee person candidates will run for two-year terms. The regional superintendent of schools for McLean, Dewitt, Livingston and Logan counties is on the ballot for a four-year term.

Candidates can run for statewide offices, state legislative seats and judicial races, too. Those filings are processed through the Illinois State Board of Elections in Springfield.

McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said it's hard to tell how the condensed schedule might impact who runs.

“It’s a flip of a coin, I think. I don’t find it any different. If nothing else it would encourage us to get ourselves out there and get ‘er done, so to speak, rather than procrastinate,” Michael said.

Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) public information officer Matt Dietrich noted while candidates need fewer signatures to collect, it may be tougher to go door-to-door during the winter months.

“Normally, they’d be doing that primarily in September and October in nice weather. They’ll be doing that in January and February, and we’ve already seen how unpredictable the weather can be in Illinois,” Dietrich said. “That could be a factor that could make it a little more difficult for the candidates.”

The primary filing period runs from March 7-14.

Independent and new-party candidates can begin circulating petitions for the general election from April 13 through July 11. They also have far more stringent signature requirements than Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians in McLean County.

Dietrich added the public will also have less time to challenge candidate petitions if they find irregularities. Early voting begins May 19, two months after petitions are filed.

“I don’t think it will have a detrimental effect, but obviously it’s not ideal,” he said.

Dietrich recommends anyone who is unsure about which state legislative district they will be voting in based on the new political maps should visit the district locator page on the ISBE website.

Michael said because candidates generally get their forms online and no longer come to the county clerk's office until they file, she doesn't know who intends to run until the filing period begins, except for those who have already announced.

Michael said she plans to file for re-election.

The primary election is scheduled for June 28. The general election will be Nov. 6.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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