Illinois Governor Recall Amendment (2010)

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Illinois Constitution
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The Illinois Governor Recall Amendment, also known as House Joint Constitutional Amendment 31, appeared on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Illinois as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment where it was approved.

The proposal allowed voters to recall the governor and required that at least 20 state representatives and 10 state senators, equally balanced from each party in each chamber, sign a notice of intent to recall the governor before a petition can begin to be circulated.[1][2]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

In order for the amendment to be adopted, 60 percent of voters were required to approve the measure.[3][4]

Governor Recall Amendment
Approveda Yes 1,639,158 65.9%

Results via Chicago Tribune as of November 5, 2010.

Text of measure

According to the Illinois Voters' Guide, the ballot question read as follows:[5]

The proposed amendment, which takes effect upon approval by the voters, adds a new section to the Suffrage and Elections Article of the Illinois Constitution. The new section would provide the State's electors with an option to petition for a special election to recall a Governor and for the special election of a successor Governor. At the general election to be held on November 2, 2010, you will be called upon to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.
If you believe the Illinois Constitution should be amended "YES" on the question. If you believe the Illinois Constitution to provide for a special election to recall a Governor and for a special election to elect a successor Governor, you should vote should not be amended successor Governor, you should vote "NO" on the question. Three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election must vote "YES" in order for the to provide for a special election to recall a Governor and for a special election to elect a amendment to become effective.

Constitutional changes

See also: Illinois Governor Recall Amendment (2010), constitutional text changes

The proposed measure added a new section, Section 7, to Article III of the Illinois Constitution.[6] The new section can be read here.


Oregon was the first state to give voters the power to recall a governor during the Progressive Era in 1908. The northwest state was followed by California and other western states. According to reports, Minnesota was the latest state (1996) to adopt a recall amendment. On November 2, 2010 Illinois became the 19th state.[7]

According to reports, the recall power had only been used twice: North Dakota's Lynn Frazier (1921) and California's Gray Davis (2003).[7]

Gubernatorial scandals

Four of the eight governors prior to Gov. Pat Quinn were convicted of felonies.[7] The amendment was fueled following the highly publicized scandals surrounding former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his impeachment on January 29, 2009. According to reports, the proposed measure was one of Gov. Quinn's top priorities prior to Blagojevich's impeachment.[8] According to reports Blagojevich's trial started on June 3, 2010, approximately six months prior to the November election.[3]


The amendment was proposed by Rep. Jack Franks and Sen. Dan Cronin. Franks said, "If any state needs to give the voters the power of recall, it is Illinois with its long record of malfeasance in office. The numerous failings of our former governor are an indisputable example of why recall is necessary."[9] Gov. Pat Quinn said, "I think the ultimate way to get ethics in Illinois is have the power of recall in our constitution."[10]

Both Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn and gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady announced their support for the amendment during a debate held at Elmhurst College on October 17, 2010.[11].

Sen. Michael Noland, who introduced the Senate bill, said, "It empowers people to correct bad behavior in the governors’ office, and mainly we’re talking about corruption."[12]

State Rep. Frank Mautino said, "It brings it to the people and allows for removal from office. I don't really have a problem with that." However, Mautino noted that its use should be used primarily in the most dire circumstances.[13]


Opponents argued that the costs of special elections due to the proposed measure could result millions of dollars spent.[12] Rep. William Black said that although "this is the best we can do at this time," the proposed recall amendment doesn't represent "true citizen-initiative recall." The proposed amendment, said Black, if used during Blagojevich's tenure, could have easily been circumvented.[9]

State Sen. Gary Dahl said although he doesn't think the amendment is a bad idea, he thinks its an "unnecessary idea."[13]

John Bambenek argued that the amendment "is a sham" because of the almost-impossible barriers to placing a recall amendment on the ballot, including the need to "collect about 550,000 signatures from voters in 150 days (15% of the number of votes in the last governor election)" and getting "an affidavit signed by at least 20 State Representatives (10 Republicans, 10 Democrats) and at least 10 State Senators (5 Republicans, 5 Democrats)."[14]

The Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization, called the recall amendment "fake reform." The free-market advocacy organization called the requirement to get elected officials to support a recall effort "permission slip democracy." The Institute recommended a recall measure that was less restrictive[15].

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the proposed measure could lead to expensive litigation.[16]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Illinois ballot measures, 2010


  • The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald endorsed its support for the gubernatorial recall amendment. Despite the suburban Chicago newspaper desire for voters to approve the measure as a way to hold elected officials accountable, they said they felt that it would rarely be used if approved. The Daily Herald editorial board cited that recall provisions against a statewide office holder were only used twice in U.S. history[17].
  • The Bloomington Pantgraph endorsed its support for the gubernatorial recall amendment. Despite the newspaper having had some reservations about the recall process, they said they felt that voters might have to wait a long time before another similar amendment was proposed. The Downstate Illinois newspaper said that the indictment of former Governor Rod Blagojevich was reason alone for voters to approve the proposal.[18]
  • The Chicago Tribune supported the gubernatorial recall amendment. They were critical of the requirements to get a recall approved but the Tribune argued that the amendment's approval was needed to send a message to state lawmakers who failed to bring up similar recall amendments during and after the Rod Blagojevich scandal. The paper further argued that approval of the amendment was the first step to mount pressure on members of the General Assembly to pass a broader measure expanding recall provisions to state legislators, local elected officials, and judges in the 2011 session.[19]


  • The Belleville News-Democrat opposed the recall amendment. In a short column, the newspaper slammed the requirement for recall sponsors to get support from 30 legislators with at least half in each of the two major parties. Also, the News-Democrat said they thought the signature threshold was set too high. The editorial board cited that using 2006 election figures, a recall sponsor would have to get 520,000 signatures to recall the Governor.[20]
  • The Chicago Sun-Times opposed the recall amendment. In a strongly worded editorial, the newspaper said that the amendment would do more harm than good for Illinois. The Sun-Times argued that if a recall was initiated, they feared that the governor would only be accountable to the General Assembly as they had the power to determine if a recall petition was qualified under the proposed amendment. The Sun-Times editorial board said that more stock should be put in the impeachment process if elections failed to remove politicians who did not meet the expectations the people had of them.[21]
  • The Rockford Register Star was opposed to the proposed amendment. In an editorial, the board said, "Those who think recall is necessary agree the bar should be set high, but it should not be nearly impossible to clear. Also, keep in mind the costs of a recall election. The State Board of Elections estimates the costs of a recall election to be $101 million. Recall only applies to the governor. There’s no provision for other elected officials. If recall is good for one office, it should be good for all. This amendment does nothing to fix Illinois politics. It should be soundly defeated."[22]
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recommended a "no" vote on the recall amendment. The newspaper said there were not enough safeguards in the amendment from preventing organizations with large financial resources from influencing recalls.[23]
  • The State-Journal Register (Springfield) was opposed to the recall amendment. The endorsement of a "no" vote was the continuance of the newspaper's long-held position of opposing recall. The State-Journal Register has said that the amendment lacks in principle and said that the support of the amendment fed off a campaign opposing re-election to State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride.[24]


See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • A Sept. 30-Oct. 10, 2010 poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of 758 likely voters revealed that 65.6% supported the proposed amendment, while 27% were opposed and 7.4% were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.[25]

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Sept. 30-Oct. 10, 2010 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute 65.6% 27% 7.4% 758

Path to the ballot

See also: How to amend the Illinois Constitution

To qualify for the 2010 ballot, the measure required approval by both the House and the Senate.

The House passed the amendment by a vote of 109 to 6 on May 30, 2009. The Senate passed the constitutional amendment by a vote of 56 to 1 on October 15, 2009. Both the House and the Senate confirmed the proposed amendment for the 2010 ballot on October 15th.[26][27][28] There were approximately 19 Senate Sponsors and 71 House Sponsors.

See also

Suggest a link


External links

Additional reading



  1. The News-Gazette,"Proposed amendment for recalling governors advances," May 31, 2009
  2. Northwest Herald,"Recall will be on Nov. ballot," June 7, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pantagraph,"Recall amendment going to print as Blago trial begins," June 2, 2010
  4. Chicago Tribune,"Illinois voters to decide recall power," October 31, 2010
  5. Illinois Voters' Guide,"Constitutional amendment on recall," retrieved September 27, 2010
  6. Illinois General Assembly,"HC0031," retrieved September 27, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2,"Blagojevich legacy: Recall on the Illinois ballot," September 23, 2010
  8. Quad-City Times,"Illinois governor waits for recall legislation," June 4, 2009
  9. 9.0 9.1 WGN-AM,"Illinois House Approves Recall Amendment," May 30, 2009
  10. Quad-City Times,"Quinn voices support for recall measure," June 10, 2010
  11. Chicago Public Radio "Live Stream-IL Governor's Debate", October 17, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 My Suburban Life,"Amendment would introduce recall to Illinois," October 14, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Times,"Amendment an unnecessary idea?," October 24, 2010
  14. Part-Time Pundit,"Illinois’ Recall Amendment: Holding Politicians Accountable Only if they Say it is OK," September 9, 2010
  15. Illinois Policy Institute "Fake Reform: The 2010 Illinois Governor Recall Amendment", October 18, 2010
  16. The Daily Caller,"ACLU calls Illinois recall proposal — what else? — unconstitutional," October 27, 2010
  17. Daily Herald "Recall: Approve it and rarely use it", October 13, 2010
  18. Bloomington Pantgraph "Amendment for governor recall deserves a 'yes'", October 13, 2010
  19. Chicago Tribune "Yes on recall", October 11, 2010
  20. Belleville News-Democrat "Recall this pointless plan", October 11, 2010
  21. Chicago Sun-Times "Recall amendment more harm than good ", October 21, 2010
  22. Rockford Register Star,"Our View: Vote no on flawed recall amendment; it does nothing," October 11, 2010
  23. St. Louis Post-Dispatch "In Illinois, Quinn and Giannoulias, with fingers crossed.", October 15, 2010
  24. State-Journal Register "Our Opinion: Illinois doesn’t need a recall amendment", October 15, 2010
  25. Paul Simon Public Policy Institute,"Simon Poll: Tired of business as usual, Illinois voters want reforms," October 14, 2010
  26. All American Patriots,"Illinois Governor Quinn Hails Passage Of Groundbreaking Recall Legislation," October 16, 2009
  27. Illinois General Assembly,"Senate Vote on House Joint Constitutional Amendment 31," retrieved January 26, 2010
  28. Illinois General Assembly,"House Vote on House Joint Constitutional Amendment 31," retrieved January 26, 2010