Another Top-Two Bill Advances in Illinois

On Wednesday, March 1, a nonpartisan, top-two bill proposed by Illinois state State Rep. Sara Jimenez (R) was assigned to Election and Campaign Finance Committee. The bill, HB3655, was originally introduced on February 10, and would make Illinois the third state to adopt a top-two primary system for statewide elections.

IVN reported in January on another bill, HB0285, introduced by state Rep. Mike Fortner (R) that would reform state primary elections the same way. Fortner’s bill was also assigned to committee on January 25. No additional action has been taken on the bill.

Both HB3655 and HB0285 would implement a primary election system in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, would appear on the ballot in each race, and the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.

Currently, Illinois uses what can best be described as a semi-open system, in which voters do not have to register with a party, but they do have to declare party affiliation when they show up to vote on primary election day, and a polling judge “must then announce it ‘in a distinct tone of voice, sufficiently loud to be heard by all persons in the polling place.’ If there is no challenge the voter is given the primary ballot for his or her declared party.”

Illinois uses this system for statewide, congressional, and presidential primaries.

Nonpartisan election reform has emerged in a number of states, including Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico, and Virginia. The Independent Voter Project, a co-publisher of IVN.us, co-authored Proposition 14, the nonpartisan, top-two election reform in California that was approved by a majority of voters in 2010.

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