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First day for 2012 candidates to collect ballot signatures

Candidates running in the Illinois primary elections next March can start collecting signatures Tuesday to get on the ballot, a routine campaign activity that has an added twist this year.

Candidates for different offices in Illinois are required to collect wildly different numbers of signatures from registered voters in order to secure ballot spots. Those running for the Illinois Senate must collect 1,000 signatures, while those running in much-larger U.S. House districts need only 600.

Complicating the situation this year are lawsuits currently pending over new district boundaries, the result of the highly contentious once-a-decade redistricting process.

If the lawsuits are successful in changing the maps, candidates may find they collected signatures from voters who're no longer in their districts. Because of this, a federal judge recently gave Illinois congressional campaigns some wiggle room, ruling that those signatures would still be valid.

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