In Episode 3 of our podcast IL Informed we dove into the realities of corruption in Illinois. What it looks like, why it’s prevalent, and who it hurts. If you haven’t listened to the episode yet…go check it out.
So what’re we gonna do about it? ’Cause we’re Team Daniel on this one, we can’t just resign ourselves to this being ‘the way it is’.
Note: This is a living document, we’ll add additional reforms/orgs as they come up. Know something that should be included? Send it to email@example.com, subject line “fix the system”.
These groups are working to curb corruption in Illinois. Support them with your dollars or your time!
Better Government Association Non-partisan investigative watchdog organization shining a light on government and holding public officials accountable
CHANGE Illinois Coalition leading systemic political and government reform, focusing on addressing issues that undermine our democracy
Chicago Votes Non-partisan, non-profit organization building a more inclusive democracy by putting power in the hands of young Chicagoans
Common Cause IL Organizing, lobbying, and coalition-building entity focused on holding those in power accountable
FairVote Illinois Non-partisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all
Illinois PIRG Consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our democracy
League of Women Voters of Illinois Non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government
Reform for Illinois Non-partisan research and advocacy organization that empowers the public and addresses the role of money in politics
POLICIES AND REFORMS
See something you like? Let your legislators know. Then get all your friends to let their legislators know too. Make a phone call, or even better ask for a meeting!
Find your state legislators here.
Campaign Finance Reform
There are many options here, but the consensus of reform advocates is that the most impactful policy is to create a public financing system to allow ordinary people without access to huge donors to compete against wealthy candidates and candidates with big money behind them. More and more places around the country are enacting systems like this.
Supported by Common Cause IL, Illinois PIRG, Reform for Illinois, and many more reform organizations.
Ranked Choice Voting
A voting system that allows voters to rank candidates on their ballot instead of picking just one. This allows more diverse voices to play a meaningful role in the political process.
FairVote Illinois is the most active supporter of this reform.
Streamline government so that there aren’t as many individual fiefdoms and there is more oversight and more checks and balances, including eliminating aldermanic privilege and integrating various units of government.
The Better Government Association is the organization that’s most focused on this topic.
Create an independent, non-partisan commission to draw legislative district maps. The idea is that when politicians draw the maps of the districts they have to run in, they’re isolating themselves from competitive elections and therefore from accountability.
CHANGE Illinois has been the most vocal proponent of this reform.
Prevent Conflicts of Interest/Outside Jobs
Many Illinois elected officials have outside jobs that enable them to make a significant income in ways that seem to most people to be in conflict with their public service jobs. For instance, being a property tax appeal attorney. This could be changed. For example, this is illegal for members of the United States Congress.
Make Ballot Initiatives Easier
It is extremely hard to reform Illinois government via ballot initiative. More than half of states allow for reforms to be enacted with ballot initiatives that come from a citizen petition rather than relying on politicians to do it, and almost all of them have systems with fewer barriers than Illinois. The idea is that if we brought Illinois in line with these other states then there would be more ways for the public to engage in reform fights.
Revolving Door Provisions for Lobbyists
Prohibit legislators from becoming lobbyists for a fixed period of time after retiring. Prohibit more high-level staff from doing this. The idea is that if government officials are focused on getting jobs as lobbyists, then they may not be working in the public interest.