Eye On Illinois: Amendment 1 clears lower bar to reach passage


How did Amendment 1 pass?

This isn’t a question of political machinations, but a specific examination of Article XIV in the 1970 Illinois Constitution. Section 2, concerning amendments the General Assembly places on the ballot, reads: “A proposed amendment shall become effective as the amendment provides if approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election.”

By the first threshold, the push to enshrine certain union rights failed, as current totals show only 58% of voters registered yes. But by the second, Amendment 1 passed because 53% of all ballots cast had a yes vote. The difference in percentage comes from the hundreds of thousands of voters who didn’t weigh in at all.

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland

That’s not uncommon – in 2020 almost 300,000 fewer Illinoisans voted yes or no on the graduated tax amendment than chose a presidential candidate. In that election, the yes votes represented fewer than 47% of votes cast on the question and not quite 45% of all ballots, so the measure failed by either standard.

Not filling in a circle remains fundamentally the same as a no vote under either method, but the second threshold makes it important for everyone who supports a proposal to actively cast a yes vote.

Changing those rules would require updating the constitution itself. That’s something to remember for the next constitutional convention referendum in 2028.

UPDATE: I’ve written twice about the legal challenge to Illinois’ vote-by-mail deadline, which lets authorities count absentee ballots up to 14 days after the election, provided they are postmarked on or before Election Day or have a dated, verified voter signature. Filed in May, the suit could’ve thrown last week’s general election into chaos. But late on Nov. 7, U.S. District Judge John Kness filed an order setting a hearing for oral arguments on Dec. 5. We’ll keep watching for developments.

MAILBAG: Dean Farr, of the Illinois Division of the Izaak Walton League, regarding the Oct. 8 column on the 30 by 30 Conservation Task Force: “There is another equally important conservation story unfolding. Soil and water conservation (soil health) practices can protect water supplies, keep farm land in place, mitigate flooding, create habitat and help address climate change. The leader in all this is Dr. Michael Woods and his Division of Natural Resources (within the Department of Agriculture). He and Brian Rennecker are bringing in even more federal dollars as well as rebuilding the division to better plan and deliver more conservation through the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts This is an important story that the public and policy makers need to hear. Collectively we can do more.”

Find information on your county’s SCWD at aiswcd.org.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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November 17, 2022 at 05:12AM

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