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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 12:01 am

NO CONTEST

As the most sordid political campaigns in memory wind down, the most depressing part of what’s left of democracy in America isn’t the mud or the promises to build walls or never-ending investigations of emails or zillions of dollars given and spent to spin and obfuscate and insult and buy influence. No. The worst part comes in a recent report by Common Cause, which says that a lot of us, particularly in Illinois, really have no choice at all when it comes to elections. Thanks to legislative districts drawn by politicians, the liberal-leaning good government group says that Illinois is one of eight states where at least 60 percent of candidates in state legislative races face no opposition. With 67 percent of General Assembly contests having just one candidate, we rank sixth nationally in the no-choice-for-voters category, just behind Rhode Island, where 70 percent of state legislative races have just one candidate, and ahead of Texas, where 66 percent of legislative contests are really no contests at all. We barely missed the podium when it comes to states where legislative races were over even before primary elections, thanks to just one major-party candidate filing for office. Illinois, where 55 percent of legislative primary races last spring drew just one candidate, ranked fourth in the nation, behind Arkansas, Georgia and Massachusetts. Not so great for democracy, maybe, but the machine, at least, is alive and well.

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