By Jamey Dunn
A constitutional amendment that would allow voters the power to recall a sitting governor seems to be the only sure thing on the statewide ballot for the upcoming general election, according to one poll.
The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s recent poll of more than 700 likely voters found 65 percent of participants favored recall power that would be applied to governors. Only 27 percent were opposed to recall. While the amendment in front of voters in November is limited to the governor’s office, 66 percent of respondents in the poll approved voters having the power to recall other statewide elected officials.
John Jackson, a visiting professor at the public policy institute, said the convictions of former Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges and the impeachment and corruption trials of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich contributed to the public’s support of recall. “I think [recall] is a sure thing. ... [It’s] the scandal from the last two governors that drives this idea. [Recall is] a recourse that the voters could take,” he said.
Voters were in favor of open primaries, an issue the General Assembly will take up in its veto session. Almost three quarters of respondents would prefer not being required to declare a party affiliation to vote in primary elections. Gov. Pat Quinn used his amendatory veto power to tack an open primaries provision onto an elections bill. Jackson said he hears an “endless stream of complaint” from voters about having to publicly identify with a party to cast their votes.
More than 75 percent of respondents also disapproved of the state’s current redistricting plan.
More than 80 percent of participants backed term limits for legislators, as well as limiting the time an individual can be speaker of the House or Senate president. They also favored limits on the campaign money given by leaders to rank-and-file members. More than half of those surveyed supported public financing for judicial races.
Jackson said he thinks legislators may take notice of the strong public backing on some of these reform issues — especially the open primary amendatory veto — that will be before them in the near future. However, he said that does not mean any action on those issues is in the works. “When will the tide turn in Illinois? And what will make it turn? … That’s the bigger question, and the far the more important question.”
Jackson said the next installment of poll results, which comes out Monday, will address the public’s perception of the state budget.