Report From Illinois
Dan Johnson-Weinberger, General
Center for Voting and
On April 29, 2003,
HB 138 passed the Senate Local Government committee on a 6-4 vote. It now goes to the
Senate floor for a vote in May. Call Dan at 312-933-4890 if you live
in Illinois and want to help.
FIRST LEGISLATIVE SUCCESS FOR
CUMULATIVE VOTING IN DECADES AND BALLOT WIN FOR "DRIVE TO REVIVE" IN CHICAGO
We've had two significant wins this
we are making real progress in the Illinois General Assembly.
Earlier this month, a bill to let county boards grant cumulative
voting rights in county elections passed the House 73-40 (5 not
voting). Introduced by Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), HB 138 now moves
on the state Senate, where Terry Link (D-Highwood) has agreed to
pick it up.
40 opposition votes came mostly from Republicans, who fear that
using cumulative voting in county board elections will lead to the
representation of Democrats on the DuPage and McHenry County Boards.
Well, they're right. Even though Democrat Jesse White won both of
those counties, not a single Democrat is serving on either county
board. That's just not fair, and cumulative voting will result in
bipartisan representation, so the many Democrats in both counties
can have their voice heard on the county board.
thanks to the efforts of Mike Leszkai, in yesterday's municipal
elections there was an advisory vote in Ward's 47 Precinct 28 on
whether Illinois should use cumulative voting in three’Äëmember
districts in the state House. An overwhelming 178 of the 222 voters
gave a big thumbs up. That's 80% voting yes!!!
in Springfield, to build support for a return to cumulative voting
in the state House of Representatives and to boost democracy in
local government, we’Äôre working to allow local governments in the
state to use cumulative voting. If school boards, city councils and
county boards in the state join Peoria in using cumulative voting,
we think it will make a return to cumulative voting for the state
House more likely.
addition to the couny board bill, two other worthy bills have been
Senator Miguel Del Valle (D-Chicago), Chair of the Senate Education
Committee, has introduced SB 1371 to allow school districts to grant
cumulative voting rights.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) has
introduced HB 2544, which would allow villages and towns the same
right as cities to use cumulative voting in three-member districts,
called the ’Äúminority representation plan’Äù in the state code.
this spring, we anticipate the introduction of a state
constitutional amendment that would implement three-member districts
for the state House, elected by cumulative voting. We hope to make a
bit of a press splash with legislators from both houses calling for
this forward-looking reform.
to blow my own horn, but I've found you just can't overestimate the
value of a personal presence in Springfield. Last session, when I
was lobbying on the cumulative voting amendment for the Illinois
House, I was in chief sponsor Sara Feigenholtz's Springfield office.
I asked her office’Äëmate Jack Franks if he would support the
amendment. He said he instead wished cumulative voting could be used
in county board elections. Last summer, Rep. Franks and I drafted
the bill and went back and forth with the Legislative Research
Bureau to perfect the bill all fall. When the General Assembly
convened in January, Rep. Franks and I were ready to hit the ground
running. Rules Committee Chairwoman Barbara Flynn Currie was good
enough to assign the bill to a friendly committee, and I testified
in the Elections and Campaign Reform Committee on the very first
day. After educating many first-term legislators on what cumulative
voting is, we had our successful floor vote.
maintain an apartment in Springfield at 404 West Capitol (just West
of the Stratton Office Building). If you are ever interested in
coming to Springfield to help me lobby, please let me know. I can be
reached at 312.933.4890 or [email protected]. With your ongoing help to our drive to revive
cumulative voting, we will take advantage of opportunities with a
Democratic General Assembly this year and pass some of our bills.