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Cumulative voting legislation introduced in state senate

The drive to revive cumulative voting for the Illinois House -- to ensure that everyone is represented, not just the majority -- continues with Monday's filing of senate legislation to put cumulative voting in three-member districts on the November 2002 ballot.

Illinois state senators Barack Obama (D-Chicago) and Tom Walsh (R-LaGrange Park) filed legislation on Monday, October 15th in the senate that would put cumulative voting in three-member districts for the Illinois House of Representatives on the November 2002 ballot. This is the first time in the history of the state senate that an amendment has been introduced calling for cumulative voting.

“Illinois voters haven’t had the chance to debate the merits of cumulative voting since 1980. By putting this constitutional amendment on the November ballot, we’ll give Illinois that debate,” said Senator Walsh.

“For more than a century, Illinois was a leader in including all points of view in the legislature with three-member districts. It’s time that we give voters the chance to bring back cumulative voting,” said Senator Obama.

Senators Walsh and Obama are available for radio interviews on Monday. There will be a press conference at 2:30 pm at the Thompson Center press room on the 15th floor.

Until 1980, Illinois used three-member districts for the state House. Voters had three votes, which could all be cast for one candidate. This ensured that political minorities in each district, such as Chicago Republicans and DuPage Democrats, could elect one of the three representatives. Thus, each party represented the entire state, and not just certain areas.

In 1980, Democratic activist Pat Quinn put the “Cutback Amendment” on the ballot to abolish representation for political minorities by using single-member districts. The amendment also cut the number of state representatives by one-third from 177 to 118. There is a growing consensus that cumulative voting should never have been taken away from Illinois voters.

Identical legislation to the Obama-Walsh amendment has been introduced in the state House. That legislation is HJRCA 4. Co-sponsors include Democrats Sara Feigenholtz, Judy Erwin, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and Art Turner and Republicans Terry Parke and Rick Winkel.

The Midwest Democracy Center is a Chicago-based membership group advocating for a return to cumulative voting. The website of the Midwest Democracy Center is and the phone number is 312.587.7060. State Senator Tom Walsh can be reached at his office at 708-531-0390. State Senator Barack Obama can be reached at his office at 773-363-1996.



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