DIGGING DEEPER: Illinois to vote on key constitutional amendment - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

DIGGING DEEPER: Illinois to vote on key constitutional amendments


Illinois voters have a lot of important decisions to make in the November election, including whether to change the state's constitution on two key matters. These are issues that could affect your rights.

"This is the Constitution, it will become a different document with a different balance struck with the rights of one group and the rights of another. People ought to think very seriously about these," says Bob Evans, political science professor.

One of the questions on the ballot deals with crime victims rights. It asks for a yes or no vote. The proposed amendment would expand certain rights already granted to crime victims in Illinois, and give crime victims the ability to enforce their rights in a court of law.

"The victims rights exist which was based on an amendment in 1992. But what doesn't exist is to have a victim bring a motion up in court and have that specifically decided by the court," says Joe Bruscato, Winnebago County State's Attorney.

This new amendment would be a huge change. Currently, only attorneys can raise a motion in court. This amendment allows victims or their survivors to address the judge in that capacity. Bruscato supports the measure.

"It's important that crime victims have their own ability to go to court, be heard by the judge and ensuring that the Crime Victims Bill of Rights is enforced," says Bruscato.

But the Illinois Bar Association is against it. The group says it goes against how the justice system was set up.

"We want to protect victims but frankly that's not the purpose of the criminal law. The purpose of the criminal law is to either acquit or convict defendants. That's why it's People of the State of Illinois vs. Evans not you vs Evans or Smith vs. Evans," says Evans.

This is just one question before the voters. Another amendment being proposed to the state's constitution would prohibit any law that disproportionately affects the rights of eligible Illinois citizens to register to vote or cast a ballot based on the voter's race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.

The big change isn't that you can't register to vote based on those factors but it adds in the words "cast a ballot." That could potentially stop things like voter ID cards Iron being required at the polls.

"Laws have been passed restricting the right to cast a ballot not the right vote but the right to cast a ballot if one doesn't have ID, voter ID. This amendment would prohibit that," says Evans.

The election is November 4th.

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