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Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011 06:21 pm


Voting in an Illinois primary election means revealing your political leanings – a problem if you work in a place necessarily connected to politics, say proponents of a constitutional amendment that would make primaries private.

Bill Clutter, a Democratic candidate for the 48th Senate district, is heading the charge for change and aims to garner about 500,000 petition signatures in favor of open primaries. The Illinois State Board of Elections requires 298,400 signatures before the question of open primaries can be put on the November 2012 ballot, Clutter says.

“There are so many people who don’t participate in the primary elections,” Clutter says, blaming Illinois’ current system, calling it a “relic of the patronage system.”

“That’s especially felt here in Springfield because of state government,” Clutter says.

Springfield resident Cynthia Rutan Bard, whose 1990 U.S. Supreme Court case against Illinois’ Republican Party outlawed patronage, was the first to sign Clutter’s petition.

“No one should have any access to that information except me,” Bard says, noting that she lost out on two promotions because she voted Democratic in a primary election. “I have decided that patronage is just a way of life for people and it’s disturbing to me that people are appointed to positions of power and, not always but frequently, wind up abusing that power and abusing the citizens they work for.”

More information about the open primary petition as well as petition forms and instructions can be found at illinoisopenprimary.com.
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