Voters consider governor recall measure

November 1, 2010 5:58:02 PM PDT
Voters in Illinois have a significant question on their ballots Tuesday: should the state constitution be amended to allow voters to recall the governor?

If the measure passes, voters would be able to kick a governor out of office instead of waiting for the legislature, as was the case with former governor Rod Blagojevich. The process wouldn't be easy and some say it's unconstitutional.

"We need to allow citizens to take their government back and this is desperately needed to do that," said State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo, Ill. Democrat.

Franks, who sponsored the recall legislation for the ballot, admits it's not perfect. "I'm hoping we're able to pass this, then expand upon it," said Franks.

If voters pass the measure, the recall process would be complicated:

  • It couldn't be started until the governor has served at least 6 months;
  • An affidavit would need to be filed by anyone with the state board of elections stating the intent to circulate recall petitions;
  • Then, the affidavit needs to be signed by at least 10 members of the Illinois Senate and 20 members of the Illinois House of Representatives. No more than half the signatures from each branch can be from the same political party;
  • Then the petitions for recall can be signed. However, in order for a recall, petitions have to be signed by at least 15-percent of the total votes from the governor's general election, which would be 525,000 signatures according to the last one. Also, 100 signatures must come from each of at least 25 of Illinois' 102 counties.
  • If all steps are followed, an election to recall would take place.

    "I think the legislature needs to go back to the drawing board on this one," said Harvey Grossman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    According to the ACLU, the petition requirement could be a problem because voters in counties with smaller populations would have more power than those in larger counties. "Anytime this comes into play in the future, the vulnerability of this amendment will come to light," said Grossman.

    "The ACLU says a lot of things. Oftentimes they're wrong. I think they're wrong here," said Franks.

    Regardless, it's likely any recall vote will end up in court. Illinois' recall would only apply to the governor. Eighteen states currently have some form of voter recall.


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