Clarification of the Proposed Amendments To The Illinois Constitution

 Clarification of the Proposed Amendments To The Illinois Constitution

So probably in the last week you received a small booklet in the mail (from the Secretary of States office), stating there are not one but two amendments up for a vote for the Illinois State Constitution on election next month (November 4, 2014), in the general statewide election.

The first is for amendment to section 8.1 of article 1 which is to the Bill Of Rights and is all about crime victims’ rights and its what it sounds like. Making sure that victims of violent crimes are protected (free from harassment, intimidation and abuse), and better still are notified in advance of the process of conviction, sentencing and imprisonment. Also the victim would have some say so about their privacy and also give the victim a voice during this process. Now still a judge can ask for certain things but the key here is that the victim would be considered in many aspects including when bail is set for the defendant and also the victims confidentiality. Also that personal information about the victim that is not relevant to the crime and case would not be allowed (i.e. mental health records, journal diaries, etc), in the case.

Now this booklet explains the pros and cons of the amendment as well and though it seems obvious to protect victims the cons are that this could slow down an already tedious and slow due process and that victims already have plenty of rights. So just like in any case or law class (I took pre-law at DePaul University), you get to see both sides and make a decision from there.

This is the beauty of our government when discussing even the most slight change of a document as protected as a state constitution, still you need legislature to vote (60% have to vote yes), to get this up for a public vote and then the ballot referendum determines if there is a language change or not.

The next  proposed amendment is to add to section 8 of article three which is suffrage and elections. And as basic as this might seem its to make sure there is no discrimination in the voting or voting registration process. Now this is in my wheelhouse of civil rights history and if you remember there was changes to last renewal of the civil rights voting act of 1964 and though that’s federal legislation and Illinois was NOT one of the states (most were southern), that had extra eyes on them to make sure they didn’t go back to their questionable tactics (taxes, tests, etc), to limit the access of voting for all. Still Illinois is just being cautious and making sure there are no loopholes to allow any funny business that would impede anyone from voting.

Now granted there’s still voters cards that you should have already received from your county’s board of elections, some people make a big deal for those states (currently there are 31), that make people show driver’s licenses and other forms of identifications to vote. Illinois has no requirements to show ID to vote, you only have to show ID when you REGISTER to vote.

So the cons on this language added to the constitution is that is unnecessary because Illinois doesn’t have a history of voting discrimination and even if they did there is protection federally but other states have been “creative” with the interpretation of the law so this is make sure no one would be stopped from the registration or the act of voting.

Thus here are the two amendments up for consideration for the constitution and its always good to review these things because for years Illinois had a irrelevant constitution but underwent a major revision in 1970 (previous revisions were in 1848 & 1870), and the original dates back to our original statehood in 1818. And this is the highest law in our land and thus should be taken seriously.

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