DES PLAINES – July 4, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed election reform legislation that will empower Illinois' residents with better access to democratic process. Senate Bill 1586 creates more opportunities to initiate referenda at the local and statewide levels, and simplifies the election code to make it more consistent and clear.
“On the very day we celebrate our democracy, I am enacting a bill that will put more power in the hands of the people of Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “By giving voters more authority at the ballot box, they will have a better opportunity to hold elected officials accountable and we will continue to create a more vibrant democracy in our state.”
Historically, Illinois has had limited ballot access. This bill contains three major reforms that were led by Governor Quinn to improve access to the democratic process throughout Illinois.
The legislation allows local school boards to initiate advisory referendum by resolution for the first time in Illinois history. It also lowers the petition signature requirement for initiating referenda to a uniform 8 percent of the gubernatorial vote.
Additionally, the bill eliminates bureaucratic hurdles in the petition process for constitutional amendments by cutting the requirement that petitions to initiate referenda be segregated by election jurisdiction. This reduces the chance that petitions or an initiative could be thrown out based on a technicality.
The bill also increases voting access for service members by allowing ballots to be emailed to military voters who are overseas.
Sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Represenative Michael Zalewski (D-Chicago), the new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.