Who will serve as Illinois' next governor isn't the only question voters will answer on November 2.
About 18 months ago (and just five months after Rod Blagojevich's impeachment), the General Assembly voted to place on the 2010 ballot a constitutional amendment (HJRCA 31) offering Illinois residents the opportunity to recall a sitting governor. If approved, the process to remove Illinois' chief executive would be intense. First, the pol must serve in office for six months. If he or she qualifies, at least 20 lawmakers from the House and 10 from the Senate (including an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in each chamber) must agree to launch the recall process. Finally, the signature gathering would start; individuals seeking to remove the governor would have 150 days to collect names equal to 15 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. On top of that, over 100 signatures must be obtained from at least 25 counties. If recall backers succeed, a special election would be scheduled.
Both major party gubernatorial candidates support the initiative; last year, Gov. Pat Quinn called it "the ultimate ethics measure." Although 18 states have a gubernatorial recall option on the books, citizens have only exercised that right twice in U.S. history and only once (Gray Davis in California) since 1921. Critics worry that the threat of recall could make executives more politically cautious. Reformers say the process included in this bill is too cumbersome to exploit. Voters haven't decided yet with whom they agree; a Suffolk University poll released yesterday showed 48 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed.