KEWANEE, Ill. (WMBD) – Marcus Throneburg wants to see his name on the Illinois ballot in November, but the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the process for him and other third-party candidates.

“You can’t introduce yourself,” said Throneburg, who cancelled 13 scheduled campaign events in April. “It creates a real challenge, especially when you don’t have party notoriety, and you’re an independent. You need to get out there and make personal connections.”

Throneburg filed to run as an independent in the November general election to replace Sen. Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria) in the Illinois State Senate. Weaver, elected to the 37th District seat in 2015, plans to retire at the end of his term. Currently, Republican Win Stoller is the only person on the ballot.

Throneburg, who has aligned himself with the Alliance Party, must reach a certain number of signatures to be on the ballot. As an independent, Throneburg must collect signatures between March 24 and June 22, per Illinois’ election rules. The Illinois primary elections took place on March 17.

Typically, third-party candidates would then hit the streets hard, asking people to help secure their place on the ballot. But on March 21, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted his first stay-at-home executive order.

“There’s just no personal campaigning you can do,” said Marcus Throneburg, of Kewanee.

A recent federal ruling aims to ease their burden.

In April, a judge relaxed signature requirements for third-party candidates during the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

Under the ruling, independents and new party candidates only need 10 percent of required signatures by August 7. Green and Libertarian candidates are guaranteed ballot spots. Also, signatures can be collected electronically.

“The rules have totally changed and make it very doable to get those signatures,” said Throneburg.

Throneburg thinks the state should rethink election requirements for independents beyond the pandemic.

“I think looking forward to expand democracy, we need to lower the number of signatures required [for third-party candidates],” said Throneburg.