CHICAGO — A federal judge has relaxed signature requirements for third-party candidates after a lawsuit claimed Illinois' stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic impeded the petition process needed to get on the November ballot.


The Green and Libertarian parties sued in Chicago earlier this month. Under Illinois' election rules, candidates not from established parties have to collect signatures from March 24 until June 22 for the general election. They also need more required signatures.


Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer's order issued Thursday said it was "proper" to ease requirements during the pandemic. The order guarantees Green and Libertarian candidates ballot spots, while independents and new party candidates only have to get 10% of the required signatures and have until Aug. 7. Signatures can also be collected electronically, "using a finger or a device such as a computer mouse or stylus," according the Illinois State Board of Elections.


"This legal victory is the first of many for the Libertarian Party as we fight for fair access to the ballot in an era when traditional petitioning is impossible and a threat to public health," national Libertarian Party executive director Daniel Fishman said in a statement.


Former Gov. Pat Quinn filed a similar lawsuit in Chicago earlier this month arguing the signature requirements to put a referendum on the November ballot should be loosened because of the pandemic, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.