Illinois is well known as one of the hardest states for independents and "third" party candidates to get on the ballot. Fairness is not even considered by current Illinois law, as the parties in power consolidate their dominance over the political process.
There are two ways in which candidates are unfairly excluded. One is unequal petition requirements and the other is a signature disqualification process that allows anyone to challenge signatures.
For the purposes of understanding the following excerpts from the 2010 Candidate's guide, here are some unofficial definitions. ESTABLISHED PARTY means that the party established itself by getting a required number votes in the previous election cycle. An INDEPENDENT candidate has no political party affiliation and NEW PARTY means that the party either didn't exist in the previous election cycle, or failed to get more that 5% of the popular vote. The listed requirements are for the candidates for Governor.
Established Party Candidates: Not less than 5,000 nor more than 10,000 primary electors of his or her party. See page 38, Nomination of Established Political Party Candidates. [10 ILCS 5/7-10(a)]
Independent Party Candidates: Minimum of 1% of the number of voters who voted in the last statewide General Election or 25,000 qualified voters of the State, whichever is less. (10 ILCS 5/10-3)
New Party Candidates: Minimum of 1% of the number of voters who voted in the last statewide General Election or 25,000 qualified voters of the state, whichever is less. Whether the petition must include all offices at state level has never been decided. The State Board of Elections will not decide the question outside the context of an electoral board hearing.
As you can see, there is a burden of 5 times more signatures to be gathered by independent and "new party" candidates. This burden is complicated by the disqualification process.
Illinois is one of only three states that allow any voter to object to the signatures submitted by candidates to gain a spot on the ballot. When new party candidates present their signatures, the existing parties can recruit members to challenge signatures. This hurdle to survive challenges puts the number of signatures needed at a much higher number. Realistically, an independent or "new party" candidate must gather 40,000 to 50,000 signatures. That is almost ten times more than required by the established parties.
When elected, I will call for reform of Illinois election law to put all potential candidates on equal footing for ballot access. There will be no more categories for requirements and all candidates for an office will need to get the same number of signatures to get on the ballot.