A better way to make sure voters know what’s on the ballot

SHARE A better way to make sure voters know what’s on the ballot
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(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Follow @csteditorialsLast fall, many voters first learned that the Safe Roads Amendment, which called for certain limits on state spending, would be on the November ballot only when an explanatory pamphlet from the state showed up in the mail.

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But the next time a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution is on the ballot, you may never get the news. You’ll be voting blind.

Last month, the Illinois House voted unanimously to stop requiring that a pamphlet be mailed out, although the bill is being revised to allow the Legislature to authorize mailings when a proposed constitutional amendment deals with a complex topic. Information about proposed amendments still would be posted online and in newspaper legal notices, but notification by mail to your home — the best way to assure that all voters are made aware — would be eliminated unless the Legislature deems otherwise on a case-by-case basis.

Bad move. Even in this day and age, many people do not use the internet. And those who do go online might never stumble upon information about some proposed amendment in Illinois. They might not even know to look.

When there is an election coming up, voters know to look to see who’s running for this or that office. But a constitutional amendment, unless on a big issue such as taxes, can go unnoticed. Some voters would stare at their ballot and try to figure out on the fly the wisdom of the proposal.

House sponsor state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington, says the measure will save taxpayers $1.3 million for every proposed amendment, but that’s a rather limited analysis of costs. If a bad amendment is enacted into law, it could cost far more than this proposal would save.

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