What’s At Stake In The Illinois Elections Today

One proposed amendment would strengthen the Illinois Constitution’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, requiring that victims be notified of all court proceedings involving their alleged offenders. The amendment would also ensure that victims can submit impact statements relevant to plea negotiations and prison releases—an existing right that is not always enforced in the courts.

The Complete Guide T 2014 Ballot Referenda

– Chicago Magazine

Tomorrow’s general election ballot is a long one: alongside the marquee battles for governor and U.S. senator, for state office and county office and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District office (three of the district’s nine board seats are up for election, in case you’re curious as to where your water vote goes), are a dozen referenda that will determine whether the state constitution is amended—and, well, that’s about it.

Excepting a handful of suburban referenda—including a potential library “annexation” in northwest Plato Township—state, county, and local referenda on raising the minimum wage, instituting a “millionaire tax,” banning assault weapons, and funding mental-health services are all merely advisory. Votes won’t immediately change the law, then, though they’ll almost certainly be used to dictate the legislative agenda in Springfield when the new assembly meets in January. Local issues that are being put to a vote—such as a proposed CTA flyover in Lakeview, a moratorium on metal shredders in Pilsen, and revised noise standards at O’Hare—are also likely to alter aldermanic campaign strategies in the lead-up to February’s city elections.

To help you make sense of all these nonbinding, advisory referenda—along with the two proposed constitutional amendments—here’s a guide to what you need to know. Head to the County Clerk’s site for an exhaustive run-down of referenda that will be on ballots in the suburbs, or to the city’s Board of Election Commissioners to get an idea of the length of the ballot itself.

Constitutional amendments

One proposed amendment would strengthen the Illinois Constitution’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, requiring that victims be notified of all court proceedings involving their alleged offenders. The amendment would also ensure that victims can submit impact statements relevant to plea negotiations and prison releases—an existing right that is not always enforced in the courts.

Known as Marsy’s Law, after a student whose murder led to a similar law in California, the proposed amendment is part of a nationwide movement to codify the rights of crime victims. It made it to the ballot after the overwhelming approval of the legislature, and is strongly supported by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Some critics fear that it may slow trial proceedings and interfere with the ability of the accused to gather information for their defense.

 

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