Eligibility - US Citizenship Requirements

Illinois Scores: ZERO on ballot security!


The US and Illinois Constitutions state that to be legally qualified for office you must be a US citizen. Yet, Illinois law fails to provide a process to prove (or not) that those on the ballot meet this core requirement. This is the issue being challenged.


In Illinois, for federal, state or local offices, candidates affirm that they are legally qualified in the Statement of Candidacy which, essentially, is an application form to get on the ballot. The election authorities do not check if this statement is true.  All affirmations of citizenship are accepted as true by election authorities in Illinois. No proof of citizenship is included in the public record.  Privacy laws, combined with a restrictive 5 day challenge period, completely prohibits the public from investigating on their own.


As voters, we assume only legally qualified candidates are allowed ballot access. Defend the Vote has proven that when it involves citizenship, Illinois does not check, and prohibits citizens or other candidates from checking even when challenging during the 5 day qualification period allowed by Illinois law.


Essentially, it is a matter of the 'luck of the draw' as to whether or not your ballot has only US Citizens on it.


This fact gives Illinois a ZERO on ballot security!


Let's face it... To many of us, citizenship of candidates running for office is pretty much a given. And well it should be. The vast majority of candidates running for office are obviously citizens. On this level, the issue of checking US citizenship as part of the requirement for ballot access can be seen as superfluous, but how does it play out in terms of the ballot application process?


The U.S. and Illinois Constitutions state clearly that to be legally qualified for office you must be a U.S. citizen. No one disputes this requirement. Yet, Illinois law fails to provide a process to prove or not that those on the ballot meet this core requirement. This is the issue.


Read more: The Constitution vs Law: Citizenship and Ballot Access In Illinois

 *Editor's Follow-up: The case filed in Cook County Court was withdrawn because our lawyer failed to properly serve the parties and he improper enjoined parties into one action.  As a result, the Court lost jurisdiction to decide the matter, so the lawyer was directed to withdraw the case.  We anticipate getting back to this during the 2014 election cycle.

This particular Defend the Vote action was co-sponsored by the United States Justice Foundation which provides funding and legal expertise to assure this important constitutional issue is addressed.


The issues involved in the US Citizenship challenge have been discussed before and can be found at this link.  In summary, the process for getting on the ballot in Illinois does not provide proof or verification that candidates are US Citizens as required by the US and Illinois Constitutions.  There is a 5 day objection period where a candidate’s application for ballot can be questioned by any registered voter in that candidate’s electoral jurisdiction.

Read more: Meroni V ISBE is in Court!

Defend the Vote is dedicated to ballot integrity. We have spoken frequently about the problems in Illinois elections and we will continue to do so. There are three areas we focus on: ballot access, the voter, and casting of the vote.


Yesterday, I objected to all 5 candidates (4 Republican and 1 Democrat) for Illinois House and Senate applying to be on my ballot. (The Objection Petition) I asked for verification in the public record that they are US Citizens.

Read more: If not you, who?

In Illinois...


Candidates running for office do not have to prove they are USA Citizens. When they are running for office, they sign and certify that they are "legally qualified" for the office. The State does not publish a defination for "legally qualified" and the same form is used for all offices in the state.


When the candidates turns in their signed and certified "Statement of Candidacy" the Clerk does not ask for verification of citizenship status.  Essentially we do not E-Verify candidates running for office.


Once elected, candidates submit a social security number in order to get paid.  Illinois does not e-verify the authenticity of elected officials' citizenship.