What the Illinois State Constitution Says about Townships


The General Assembly shall provide by law for the
formation of townships in any county when approved by
county-wide referendum. Townships may be consolidated or
merged, and one or more townships may be dissolved or
divided, when approved by referendum in each township
affected. All townships in a county may be dissolved when
approved by a referendum in the total area in which township
officers are elected.

Now, ask yourself,

“How can people dissolve (abolish) their township under state law?’

The answer is

“They can’t.”


What the Illinois State Constitution Says about Townships — 4 Comments

  1. Why is my sunshine blogger featured in that Looney Tunes ad? 176 days. Stay tuned…tic, tock, tic, tock, tic, tock…

  2. Actually Cal, the Election Code provides that, where no other method is prescribed for a referendum question, then you use 8% of the number of people who voted for Governor in the last election in which that office was elected (see below).

    (Pam Althoff’s office erroneously told people a couple of years ago that they needed 10% of the registered voters. That provision of the Township Code only applies if you are trying to dissolve all of the townships in a county at once).

    Bob Anderson successfully got a referendum on the ballot in McHenry Township to abolish that township in the 90’s which failed at the polls.

    The problem with the constitutional method is that it does not provide any transition. This was used by township supporters against Anderson’s referendum to successfully argue that it was unsafe to abolish the township.

    (10 ILCS 5/28-1) (from Ch. 46, par. 28-1)

    Whenever a statute provides for the initiation of a public question by a petition of electors, the provisions of such statute shall govern with respect to the number of signatures required, the qualifications of persons entitled to sign the petition, the contents of the petition, the officer with whom the petition must be filed, and the form of the question to be submitted. If such statute does not specify any of the foregoing petition requirements, the corresponding petition requirements of Section 28-6 shall govern such petition.

    Sec. 28-6. Petitions; filing.
    (a) On a written petition signed by a number of voters equal to at least 8% of the total votes cast for candidates for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election by the registered voters of the municipality, township, county or school district, it shall be the duty of the proper election officers to submit any question of public policy so petitioned for, to the electors of such political subdivision at any regular election named in the petition at which an election is scheduled to be held throughout such political subdivision under Article 2A.

    The McSweeney bill does provide for some of that but leaves a number of glaring gaps.

    There is no reason why those couldn’t be filled in by the Senate while they have the chance.

    If not, the township supporters will again have the argument that chaos will ensue if a township is dissolved.

  3. This may also be of interest:

    10 ILCS 5/28-7) (from Ch. 46, par. 28-7)
    Sec. 28-7. In any case in which Article VII or paragraph (a) of Section 5 of the Transition Schedule of the Constitution authorizes any action to be taken by or with respect to any unit of local government, as defined in Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution, by or subject to approval by referendum, any such public question shall be initiated in accordance with this Section.

    Any such public question may be initiated by the governing body of the unit of local government by resolution or by the filing with the clerk or secretary of the governmental unit of a petition signed by a number of qualified electors equal to or greater than at least 8% of the total votes cast for candidates for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election, requesting the submission of the proposal for such action to the voters of the governmental unit at a regular election.

    This Section is intended to provide a method of submission to referendum in all cases of proposals for actions which are authorized by Article VII of the Constitution by or subject to approval by referendum and supersedes any conflicting statutory provisions except those contained in the “County Executive Act”.

    Therefore the provisions of the Township Code for referenda to dissolve all of the townships in a county at once of 10% of the registered voters would be invalid.

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