Independents face battle to get on ballot

August 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Not only are the election laws stacked against the independent candidates, the law allows the Democratic and Republican parties to use stacks of money to hire attorneys to keep the newcomers off the November ballot.

Corey Dabney from Aurora, Illinois is running as an independent candidate for the United States Senate.

"I believe the people of Illinois truly deserve a choice," said Dabney.

But Dabney and his supporters are stuck trying to re-validate the required 25,000 signatures he needs to get on the ballot. He says Republican and later Democratic Party lawsuits were filed questioning whether the people who signed his petitions are qualified voters.

"They do that multiple times to take time and money away from us and to keep us off the campaign trail," said Dabney.

Randy Stufflebeam, a Marine Corps veteran, also wants to be state's next U.S. Senator. He says signatures he collected himself are being challenged.

"I personally witnessed those very signatures going onto my petitions, many of which were contested," said Stufflebeam..

But lawyers--including the state Republican Party's general counsel--are challenging Stufflebeam and the rest of the conservative Constitution Party's slate of candidates.

"We know the Republican Party is totally behind this objection," said Stufflebeam.

"We're more conservative, obviously, as Constitutionals so we're probably more a threat to take votes away from them," said Michael White, (C) nominee for governor.

Wes Bleed, a Republican spokesman, told ABC7 by email: "The Illinois Republican Party has always worked to ensure that candidates have a legal and legitimate right to be on the ballot and that the integrity of the process is upheld."

But Constitution Party lawyer Doug Ibendahl says Republicans hired private detectives to investigate petition circulators.

"Think about that, would you circulate a petition if you knew that that was a possibility?" said Doug Ibendahl, attorney.

Dabney says the most potent weapon the majors use against independent and third party candidates is money - more important at this point than votes.

"It's the voter's decision and that's what needs to be heard. But right now, the money rules and they have the funds and the resources to attack us and to even keep us from getting to that point," said Dabney.

The cases of Corey Dabney and the Constitution Party slate should be decided by the state board of elections later this month.

The Constitution Party right now has 25,017 signatures that have passed muster. The objectors are now attacking the circulators who gathered the signatures as opposed to the signatures themselves.

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