Rich Whitney is an Illinois politician and the Illinois Green Party's candidate for Governor of Illinois in 2006.
Whitney was born in Connecticut in 1955 and currently lives in Carbondale, Illinois. He is a civil rights attorney with degrees from Michigan State University and Southern Illinois University's School of Law.
On June 26th, 2006, the Illinois Green Party filed a nominating petition including signatures of more than 39,000 Illinois voters, collected within a 90 day period. New political parties are required to collect 25,000 signatures within this period to get onto the ballot in Illinois, while established parties need only 5,000 according to state law. The petition measured approximately 19 inches thick.
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, within 2 hours of filing, a copy of the petition was requested by Mike Kasper, General Counsel and Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Illinois, at 6:00pm. One week later, on July 3rd, objections to the petition were filed, claiming that many of the signatures were not genuine or did not belong to registered voters.
Green Party officials stated that the objections seemed to have been made at random, without actual examination of any records. The objections included signatures that the Greens had already crossed out; and in some cases objections were made to the 11th signature on a page, even though each page contained only 10 signatures. Even Whitney's own signature on the petition was challenged.
The hearing process involved as many as 12 or more election judges consistently working full-time for several weeks. Each party also provided a matching number of members to sit with the election judges, during the workday, as they examined thousands of signatures, either overruling or sustaining each objection. Objections were assumed valid, and automatically sustained, unless a Green Party representative was present before each election judge to compare signatures and present a defense.
Following the hearing, the State Board of Elections' Hearing Officer, Barbara Goodman, recommended that the Green Party's candidates be placed on the ballot and stated that the case was "extremely straightforward." The Board's examination confirmed that the Greens collected thousands more than the required number of signatures for ballot access.