Supremes should have taken Con-Con case

The Madison County Record Oct. 19, 2008, 11:19am

Given the state of our state, it's easy to understand why Illinois voters might be desensitized to public corruption and incompetence.

But general cynicism shouldn't allow that the men and women we've chosen to govern Illinois can turn their backs on sloppy, unprofessional and perhaps, unscrupulous behavior. That's especially true when it occurs right in front of their faces, and threatens to fatally taint a constitutionally-mandated, once every two-decades public referendum.

We're talking about the "con-con" ballot debacle, otherwise known as the biggest story generating the fewest headlines in recent weeks.

After choosing between Barack Obama and John McCain on Nov. 4, Land of Lincoln voters also will decide whether Illinois should have a constitutional convention. The issue isn't top of mind to most folks, but be certain that Springfield insiders have been taking sides.

Maybe that explains how a legislative panel charged with writing the ballot came up with wording that is wrong and an embarrassment by any measure, no matter where one stands on the question.

"NOTICE," reads the ballot's introduction, in all CAPS to ensure you don't
miss it.


This is patently false. The con-con referendum passes-- and we'll have a constitutional convention-- if three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of voters who have cast ballots say "yes."

Declining to vote isn't equivalent to voting "no." Only voting "no" is.

Even worse is the ballot's accompanying explanation of the con-con question which, among other things, reminds voters that this same ballot question failed miserably the last time it was asked. It then plays primer to unknowing voters, explaining what those voting "yes" should believe versus those voting "no."

The explanation is inaccurate and incomplete. It's also inappropriate, the equivalent of a ballot explaining that Democrats have lost the past two presidential elections, or that those in favor of raising taxes should skip McCain and pick Obama.

We wouldn't stand for that and we shouldn't stand for this. But it appears we are stuck with it.

In response to a bad ballot lawsuit filed by the Chicago Bar Association, a Cook County judge said the language was "misleading and inaccurate."

But he only ordered some half-measures be taken by poll workers, who are now charged with helping five million-plus voters "ignore" what it says on their government-issued ballots. Good luck with that.

Our state Supreme Court could have stepped in to consider a true resolution to the issue. But it punted on the question, seemingly too busy with matters more important and time-sensitive than ensuring the integrity of a ballot initiative a few short weeks away.

Apparently it was too much to ask. These days in Illinois, what isn't?

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