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Citizen Initiatives Begin Navigating Statutes, Lawsuits

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Even as a lawsuit could nullify them, the state board of elections has begun a tedious — but necessary — task of preparing a pair of proposed constitutional amendments for the November ballot. The two citizen initiatives aim to strip lawmakers of the power to draw their own maps and to limit their terms in office.

A dozen-or-so workers sit at tables at the board of elections building in Springfield.

Sliding, one at a time, more than 105,000 pieces of paper through scanners," said Rupert Borgsmiller, director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

"We will fill out a piece of paper for each petition page, that will indicate if there's any signature line that is vacant, so that whenever we do a random sampling, it will only be from lines that have a signature on it," he said.

A random sampling, to determine if there are enough — 298,400 — signatures to put the questions on the ballot.

That's just part of the complicated process.

A lawsuit's trying to put an end to it before elections authorities get too far. A challenge to the citizens' initiatives says both the term limits and redistricting plans are unconstitutional. The suit says the State Board of Elections has, and will, spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars checking the signatures, and there's no point on wasting taxpayer funds on invalid proposals.

Borgsmiller says the elections board contracted with the University of Illinois Springfield to create the software that will be used to conduct the random samplings.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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