Why Amendment 1 is too close to call

Why Amendment 1 is too close to call

Voters can change the Illinois Constitution in one of two ways: 60% of votes on the change, or a majority of total election votes. The Amendment 1 vote is so close and so many ballots remain uncounted, that calculating those two numbers remains elusive.

Amendment 1 to the Illinois Constitution remains too close to call.

The government union-backed amendment can pass in one of two ways. Either at least 60% of Illinoisans vote “yes” on the ballot question, or more than 50% of all voters in the election approve it.

The New York Times reported 58% of Illinoisans voted in favor of the constitutional amendment based on data from over 95% of counties Nov. 11. That number alone would mean the amendment would fail unless the uncounted ballots give it 60% of the vote on the question, but there is another way it could pass.

The second way for it to pass is to get at least 50% of the total votes cast in the election. That number remains elusive because of those uncounted ballots.

Illinois accepts mail-in ballots for up to two weeks after Election Day if the envelope was postmarked by Nov. 8. That means a final tally could take weeks and it could be that long before voters know whether over 50% of all Illinois voters in the election approved the change to the constitution. All ballots cast must be counted before election officials are able to make that calculation.

Election officials said they expect a smaller share of voters to cast mail ballots than in 2020, reducing reporting times. The number of mail ballots requested but that had not been returned can be tracked here, but was nearly 235,000 early on Nov. 10.

Government workers in Illinois already have the right to unionize and collectively bargain for wages, hours and working conditions. They have some of the strongest labor rights in the nation.

But Amendment 1 would add “economic welfare” and “safety at work” as subjects, which lawmakers haven’t defined and isn’t mentioned in any other state constitution. The definitions and other issues are expected to be decided by the courts, but could take years to litigate.

Misleading Amendment 1 ads also featured private sector workers praising the potential benefits of the amendment, but it would benefit almost no workers in the private sector. State Sen. Ram Villivalam, a sponsor of the amendment, made that clear in an Illinois Senate debate.

“Therefore, as federal law stands today, labor – excuse me, therefore, as federal labor law stands today, the Amendment could not apply to the private sector,” Villivalam said.

Private-sector workers would be required to fund added benefits for government unions. Illinois is on pace to add $2,149 in property taxes per household during the next four years. Amendment 1 is expected to thwart efforts to curb that increase, and could accelerate it.

Unless lawmakers make property tax relief a high priority when they return Nov. 15 to Springfield, Illinois is locked into a 5-year streak of having the nation’s No. 2 property tax rate, which is double the national average. Illinoisans need property tax relief.

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