Past Event

Does Illinois Want to Recall Politicians?

In Illinois, there has been growing support for a measure that would allow voters to recall elected officials. The House passed a bill that called for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment allowing for recalls of state lawmakers and top officials. It would operate similarly to California’s provision where voters are asked if the office holder should be recalled while voting on a successor at the same time. However, after a contentious committee meeting the decision was made to delay the vote on the bill in the Illinois Senate.

Illinois Senate Democrats who supported the delay argued that the bill needed improvement by including all elected officials and judges. House Democrats say that this was a stall tactic used to keep the issue off the November ballot and effectively killing the bill. They argue that Illinoisans should have the power to get rid of lawmakers and officials who they feel are not doing their job. Some Democrats have made it clear that the legislation is aimed at Governor Blagojevich.

Opponents to the recall amendment contend that it would cause leaders to become overly cautious with their decisions and would result in ineffective government. They point out that if special interest groups or other politicians disagreed with an official they could abuse the measure and use it to seek revenge. Supporters argue that the voters in Illinois are not empowered to control the political process in Illinois and the ability to recall officials would help shift the balance of power back to the people. They hope that the amendment would help to curb issues like patronage hiring and post-election tax increases.

The power to recall politicians makes them more accountable to the public, but is there such thing as too accountable? Would it slow down policy decisions? Does it give special interest groups too much power? How likely is it that the measure would be manipulated and abused? What is the proper mechanism to recall an official?

Join us this week as we discuss whether voters in Illinois should have the power to recall elected officials.

Suggested Readings:

Senate holds up recall measure in heated meeting

Lawmakers cite governor in voting for recall bill

Recall attempts old hat in state

It would be a mistake to pursue a recall amendment to Illinois constitutional


For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.