Illinois recall law much tougher than Wisconsin's to oust governor

Illinois recall law much tougher than Wisconsin's to oust governor

Wisconsin voters Blitzkrieged the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in a recall election won by incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker over challenger Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The special election came compliments of pissed off pro-labor and progressive activists, who gathered more than 900,000 signatures supporting Walker's recall -- when only about 540,000 were needed to force the special election.

The push to oust Walker followed legislation he signed last year that greatly reduced collective bargaining rights.

With all the buzz about the recall election in Wisconsin, The Chicago Reporter took a look back at a 2010 law that Illinois passed, which allows for gubernatorial recall elections--an issue that had strong supporters and opponents.

The law was passed as a referendum question in 2010, making Illinois the 19th state in the country to afford its citizens recall power. Wisconsin would have became only the third state in U.S. history to recall its governor.

But back to Illinois. In a nutshell, several requirements need to be satisfied in order to force a recall.

Firstly, a petition needs to be signed by at least 15 percent of the population that voted in the last gubernatorial election. That would be about 560,000 signatures, based on 2010 turnout.

But it's not that simple. At least 100 signatures need to come from each of at least 25 separate counties.

Secondly, an equal balance of at least 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats in the House and at least five apiece in the Senate need to sign off on the recall.

After all that, 50 percent of voters then need to vote in favor of removing the sitting governor from office.

The legislation came amid the Rod Blagojevich scandal, so plenty of voters and state pols supported the legislation, namely Gov. Pat Quinn, who in 2010 was running to clean up his old boss' office.

State Sen. Mike Noland, the Elgin Democrat who introduced the amendment, touted it  as a way to "empower people to correct bad behavior in the governor's office."

But the gubernatorial recall amendment drew fierce criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which maintains it violates the principal that the power of each individual's vote should be equal.

A 2010 op-ed article from Harvey Grossman, ACLU Illinois legal analyst, outlines the organization's concern:

"Using the 2006 gubernatorial election as an index, a recall petition would require approximately 530,000 signatures. Under the proposed amendment the electorate in Illinois' most populous 24 counties (6.4 million voters) which contains 84% of the registered voters could not petition for a recall, but 530,000 of the remaining 16% of registered voters (1.2 million) properly distributed among the 78 remaining counties could successfully petition for the recall of a governor. This disparity clearly violates the one person, one vote principle."

"Our concern was that the recall provision, as it was adopted, requires signatures to come from each county," Ed Yohnka, an ACLU Illinois spokesperson, told the Reporter Tuesday. "Our view is that dilutes the 'one man, one vote' principle."

The ACLU does not oppose the concept of recall power, Yohnka said, but the group was hoping the referendum would fail so Illinois legislators would "go back to the drawing board" and tweak the amendment's language.

In addition to this opposition, there was also concern that the signature requirements and the balance of support in both chambers could mean the recall measure had little teeth.

What's more, the cost of holding a recall election was also on some folks' minds.

Illinois law requires both a primary and a general election as part of the recall process. That could cost between $60 million and $100 million, on the high end, the Illinois State Board of Elections said Tuesday.

In Wisconsin, the recall election and a combined primary will cost taxpayers a more modest, but by no means cheap, $18 million, The Associated Press reported.

© Community Renewal Society 2012


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  • You get who you vote for. It matters. There SHOULD be hurdles to jump over if you want to get rid of somebody you already elected and voted for. It should be harder than just returning that douchy plaid shirt you own back to that douchy Wicker Park store you always go to only after a few days because you think one of the buttons is coming lose or because your "girlfriend" hates it. Voting matters.

  • I am not a big fan of recalls. Look at Wis. Recalls are supposed to be for malfeasance but the far, extreme, anti-American left just recalled Walker over mere political ideology, not for cause. The leftists up there abused the recall statute.

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