Keeping Blacks from Getting Elected

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote yesterday of Governor Pat Quinn’s end run around the legislature by slapping an amendatory veto on an election bill to provide for secret primary voting.

People would not have to ask for a Republican or a Democratic or a Green Party ballot. They could only vote for people on one party list, but no one would know which one they selected.

As with too many of Quinn’s “reform” ideas, it has a whopper of an unintended consequence.

Remember how his Cutback Amendment to the Illinois Constitution was going to save money because there would be one-third fewer legislators?

The remaining ones just hired more staff to replace the legislative experts in various subjects who were eliminated.

And Quinn argued that the Illinois House would be more responsive.

Didn’t happen, did it?

All that resulted was a lower chamber that acted like the upper one did.

Instead of one being controlled completely by the Establishment, two were.

Under the old system of voting, anyone who could gather 25% of the vote, plus 1, could win a seat. Now a majority is needed in two party contests, which most are.

And most are now uncompetitive districts.

Quinn’s current idea will further restrict the candidate pool. It will do that by increasing the amount of money that candidates will have to spend to get nominated.

Now, most only mail to faithful party voters.

If you have never voted in a party’s primary, don’t expect to get mail about the election.

You will remain blissfully ignorant about the issues because most candidates won’t waste money on you.

Why should you?

Primary election day in precincts Alqonquin 7 and 19 in the little back room in the Crystal Lake Park District's Main Beach House.

You probably won’t be part of the process.

Then, Zorn writes,

“The court ruled in favor in 2008 on a compromise system, known as ‘Top Two,’ which basically takes the parties out of primaries altogether and allows the top two vote-getters for each office, regardless of party, to advance to the general election. It’s in place in Washington state, and California voters OK’d the idea in a referendum last month.

‘If it’s a political science discussion about maximum choices, freedom and privacy that Quinn wants, let him abandon these slippery, halfway measures and get behind Top Two. Then we’ll talk.”

Zorn doesn’t know it, but there were intended consequences from the Deep South’s adoption of this system concurrent with the passage of the Federal Voting Rights law.

It was to keep blacks out of office.

They might be able to win a Democratic Party primary, state legislators reasoned, but it was unlikely they would be one of the top two vote-getters.

How do I know?

When I was attending American Legislative Exchange Council conventions, a legislator volunteered the information.

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