For more than two years, changing the election calendar has been one of my top priorities. We have been administering 21st century elections with a 19th century calendar.
I am pleased to announce our proposals for modernizing the calendar – included in SB 3012 sponsored by Sen. Terry Link and Rep. Elaine Nektriz – were signed into law Sunday by Gov. Pat Quinn.
With the advent of no-excuse absentee voting and Early Voting, voters can cast ballots over a three-week period rather than just on Election Day. That means election administrators must have everything ready a month earlier than before these conveniences were instituted. Yet the deadlines for candidates to file nominating petitions and for referenda submissions stayed the same. The result? Challenges to nominating petitions sometimes were still awaiting a court ruling after ballots had been printed and voting equipment prepared.
Now, thanks to SB 3012, the calendar will essentially shift the deadlines back, providing more time for the courts to decide on cases and for election authorities to prepare ballots. The changes will be implemented beginning with the 2011 elections. Specifically:
The filing period for nomination petitions for general primary elections will open two weeks sooner than it does now;
The filing period for nomination petitions for consolidated primary elections will open three weeks sooner;
Certain referenda petitions must now be filed two weeks sooner than before;
And the deadline for appealing electoral board decisions to the courts will shrink from 10 days to 5 days after the decision.
These calendar changes will significantly reduce confusion at the polls and allow for greater administrative efficiency.