Thursday, May 22, 2008

Convention Considerations: Vacancies

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.

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.

Eighth in a series

How Should Vacancies Among Delegates Be Filled?

Consider what to do should a delegate be unable to serve until the end of the Convention. The constitution provides that only that "vacancies shall be filled as provided by law." Currently, the law makes no provision for filling vacancies at a Convention. Should party leaders be allowed to fill vacancies as they do with legislative openings (note that this option wouldn't work if delegates are chosen in a non-partisan election)? Or should there be a special election? Should alternates be chosen by voters at the same time that delegates are elected, as with national party conventions?

On the subject of vacancies, are there any circumstances where a delegate should forfeit office? What of those who may be indicted for criminal offenses; should they leave office only if the allegation reflects on their official duties? Should they leave upon conviction or sentencing? Could a Convention expel one of its own members, and on what basis? (Members of the General Assembly , for instance, may be expelled upon the vote of two-thirds of the members of that chamber.) Are there particular conflicts of interest that should cause a Delegate to abstain from voting on any matters?

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