Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vote “no” on recall elections

It may only be a non-binding referendum, no more significant than the ballot question voters in Berwyn will be asked as to whether federal funding for the military effort in Iraq should be limited to, “that which is required to bring all U.S. troops home safely.”

Perhaps I should best ignore the measure about recall elections, and just vote “no” when I go to the polling place on Nov. 4.

BUT THERE IS something about the countywide referendum question that voters in Cook County will be asked to take a stance on that bugs me. Part of it is that I disagree with the premise. But I also am offended by the secretive way in which the measure was placed on the ballot – although a good part of my disgust is with the people who were stupid enough to let this get past them.

At stake is the concept of recall elections, which currently do not exist in Illinois and which the General Assembly in recent years has refused to consider creating.

Voters in Cook County will get to decide on Election Day whether the concept should exist for the offices of Illinois governor and the other state constitutional officers.
The man who is motivating many of the people who want to bring the concept of recall elections to Illinois is guilty here of nothing more than bad taste in clothing. Photograph provided by State of Illinois.

The referendum means nothing. Even if an overwhelming majority of Cook County residents were to vote “yes,” nothing would happen.

IT WOULD REQUIRE action by the General Assembly to approve changes in the state constitution to allow for recall elections. Or, it would take a binding referendum question statewide, which requires such a high level of support from voters that there would be no way to slip the issue onto the ballots across Illinois.

Now I have written before that I oppose the concept of recall elections. I always thought it was one of the few things our political people got right when they did not include such provisions in our state’s constitution.

What bugs me about recall is that, all too often, it turns out to be inspired by people who were supporters of the opposition candidate who lost on Election Day. These people amount to little more than sore losers who use the threat of recall to badger elected officials. It amounts to harassment that gets in the way of anything being accomplished on behalf of the people of the state.

And even if the candidate in question turns out to be a numbskull who now offends the people who once supported him, there is a part of me that thinks the voters who picked him ought to have to live with their mistake for a couple of years.

THAT IS WHAT will teach them to cast a ballot more logically in the future.

For the cases where an elected official engages in some sort of criminal behavior, there already are provisions in existence for impeachment – if removal from office becomes all that important.

For those people who argue that requirements for impeachment are set too high, I say that is a good thing. It ought to be next to impossible to kick a political person out of office in mid-term. That is what makes us a Democracy, rather than a hackneyed republic whose leaders are constantly being deposed in coup d’ tats.

I would be more comfortable if the people who are setting their sights on the concept of recall elections were to focus instead on trying to put together the kind of campaign operation that could defeat their desired dummy in office.

TAKE HIM OUT on a future Election Day. Come up with a better candidate. If you do, I may very well support you with my vote.

But casting a “yes” vote for the referendum just strikes me as siding with the political sore losers, many of whom in this specific instance are motivated by the fact that Rod Blagojevich has managed to get elected to two terms as Illinois governor even though they would have rather had someone else.

I also hate the way this thing got on the ballot.

Normally, to get a referendum question on Election Day ballots across Cook County, it takes about 5,000 valid signatures of support on petitions. Those petitions have to be filed with the Cook County clerk’s office in advance of the specific election. In the case of the upcoming Nov. 4 elections, these petitions had to be filed during the summer months.

AS TO THIS specific referendum, the nominating petitions only contained about 900 signatures. But in one of the quirks of Illinois law, a referendum question goes on the ballot when the relevant petitions are filed, and can only be removed once a legitimate challenge is filed with the county clerk’s office.

In this particular case, nobody bothered to file a challenge – even though the fact that the petitions had less than 20 percent of the minimum number of required signatures of support would have meant that any challenge would automatically have succeeded.

So come Nov. 4, the recall question will be put to Cook County voters because people within the political organizations got careless and were not paying attention to what was being submitted at the county clerk’s office.

Aside from thinking that some lowly political hack deserves to have his paycheck dinged for not doing his job, I am curious to see how much support such a referendum gets.

IF THIS WERE in a downstate Illinois county (particular Sangamon County, the home of the Statehouse Scene in Springfield), I would expect it to pass overwhelmingly. Blagojevich is the subject of much hostility because of his residence in the Second City more than any other issue.

For those of us Chicago-area voters, I do not doubt that some people think our governor is a nitwit.

But the governor also has his share of supporters up here, many of whom look at the people who rant and rage about Blagojevich and see it as evidence that he must be doing something right (usually because they can’t stand the people who are doing the complaining).

And me, I’ll be voting “no” because I don’t care for the idea of such a tiny minority (only 900 people out of a county of just over 5 million) trying to impose such a controversial concept because they can’t wait until 2010 to cast a vote against Blagojevich.

BUT I LIKELY will vote “yes” to the other countywide referendum question, the one that asks whether voters think the federal government ought to fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs so that “all honorably discharged U.S. veterans” receive quality healthcare services.

It’s the least they deserve.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, a long-time supporter of the concept of recall elections in Illinois, thinks that a solid show of support for the Cook County referendum (,0,2487200.story) question this year could influence the way people across the state vote for governor and other statewide offices in the 2010 elections.

Here are the referendum questions that people in various parts of Cook County will be asked ( to vote for come the Nov. 4. general elections.

Recall elections in other states have sometimes been used responsibly, but also have been used ( for ridiculous premises as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So why is no one pushing or talking about this since the recent Rod Blagojevich trying to sell the Senate seat and many other laws that he broke. IF this was in place we could vote is arrogant butt out of office.