Hey, JB: Thanks for gas tax break and family relief check, but voters need information — not electioneering hijinks

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Illinois voters are to decide Nov. 8 if our constitution should be amended. If approved, a workers’ rights provision would be added to the state’s Bill of Rights.

I get both sides of collective bargaining. While my professional career often has involved management, that’s not always the case. In earlier days, I was an active member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. I still hold inactive status, as far as I know.  

Regardless of your views or how you might vote on the constitutional amendment, you deserve information.  You should vote.

Shawn Altgilbers, secretary/treasurer of Machnists Local Lodge 822, provided Muddy River News a letter supporting the amendment. Capital News Illinois’ Peter Hancock also provided an article about its goals, mostly to prevent “right to work” laws that would prohibit employers from requiring workers to be union members.

There are bits and pieces about the amendment elsewhere. Not much.

Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act requires information

State law has long provided that when a constitutional amendment is on the ballot, the secretary of state is to send out a pamphlet explaining the proposal.  This is the Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act (5 ILCS 20/0.01). 

Among the requirements under the law are that the Secretary of State publish a pamphlet with the proposal along with an explanation of the amendment. Important, too, is a requirement that the pamphlet include arguments both for and against the amendment to better inform voters.  

State law also requires the Secretary of State to mail the pamphlet to every mailing address in the state. Yes, the official pamphlet itself.

Let the voters be informed!

I’ve been looking for the pamphlet.

No pamphlet mailed this election

Consistent with the electioneering hijinks we in Illinois have seen for years from both sides of the political spectrum, the General Assembly (with the governor’s blessing) said no pamphlet would be mailed to voters this election on the proposed Workers’ Rights amendment.  It’s the only amendment on the ballot.

Illinois law was amended (5 ILCS 20/2(f)) to provide that for any proposed constitutional amendment appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot that the pamphlet would not be sent out.  Instead, the Secretary of State was directed to instead mail a postcard advising that “a proposed constitutional amendment” will be considered.  A URL (or for the non-techie, a Uniform Resource Locator) to a state website then is provided to access the pamphlet. 

This special provision was tucked in the FY2023 Budget Implementation Act (Public Act 102-699).  The bill was 544 pages long. This only applies to the upcoming election.

So what’s happened to “let the voters be informed”?

True enough, I got the postcard.

How informative?  Not at all.

The postcard doesn’t even say that the amendment relates to our Bill of Rights. It only says “a proposed constitutional amendment” will be voted upon.  

What about the diverse voters out there who do not have ready access to a computer? What about people who don’tknow what a URL is? What about people who have disabilities preventing access to the website?  

Let’s not forget either that the state’s computers are not invulnerable. The office of the Attorney General’s computers were hacked last year and inaccessible for weeks.

The postcard as presented looks like another bit of junk mail.  My card was mixed in with the Medicare supplement coverage invites that seniors are getting inundated with.

Here’s the pamphlet

Unlike apparently our public officials, Muddy River News wants to inform voters. So here’s the pamphlet I was waiting for.

A bit sparse, but still, it’s something to inform voters.

Voters deserve better

I don’t want to offend, but not mailing the pamphlet is political bullshit.  

And please, I don’t want another COVID-19 excuse or hear that sending out the pamphlet would be a budget buster.

The tactic is inexcusable and a disservice to both voters who support and those who oppose the amendment.

I mostly trust our voters and want them to be informed.  

Who I don’t trust are politicians who jerry-rig the system.  

Jim Rapp is a Quincy lawyer, practicing in Illinois and Missouri.  He has been published and speaks extensively on estate planning, business, education lawcivil rights and other legal matters. He is a founding partner of Muddy River News LLC. 

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