Monday, April 28, 2008

Con Con Considerations: Party Affiliation

The November ballot will ask voters whether Illinois should have a Constitutional Convention. A Constitutional Convention would be authorized to review any portion of Illinois' Constitution they wanted to -- and to propose an entirely new document, amendments to existing provisions, or additions of new materials. All proposals from a Convention would have to be approved by voters at a subsequent election in order to take effect. Governmental powers, taxing authority, separation of powers, the rights of those accused of crimes, and of victims; any or all of this could be on the table.

Our current state constitution requires that voters answer this question at least every 20 years. It takes a majority of votes cast on the question, or 3/5 of all ballots cast, to call a Convention. If there is a Convention, then two delegates will be chosen from each of the 59 State Senate districts.

But the Constitution also leaves much to the General Assembly to determine. Others have taken a position on whether or not there should be a Convention, and even on what issues a Convention should address if it is called. This page is less interested in what a Convention might accomplish as in how it might work. ICPR has not adopted a position in support of or opposition to a Convention, but instead offers these questions about the nuts and bolts of running a Convention in order to prompt discussion and solicit consideration.

This is the first in a series.

Party Affiliation

The Constitution provides that there shall be two delegates elected from each Senatorial District and directs the General Assembly to make that happen. How that should happen would be up to the legislature.

On the one hand, party affiliation is the only identifier, other than a candidate's name, that appears on the ballot, and many voters use party affiliation to guide their selection processes. Many who seek to be delegates may already be elected officials, with a clear and proud history of partisan affiliation.

On the other hand, a Convention with partisan members will likely also have a partisan majority, and voters' perception of any product of such a Convention may be colored by their impressions of the party that dominated it.

Delegates to the 1969 convention were elected without party labels; all qualified candidates ran in a non-partisan free for all, and the top four vote getters then ran in a run-off; the top two were elected.

Should Candidates for Delegate Affiliate with a Party?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another question is: Should current legislators be eligible to run as a delegate?