Yet another public advisory question has been added to Illinois’ November ballot, lengthening the list of attempts by the current administration to appeal to voters in the country’s unhappiest state.
A week after the debated Supreme Court “Hobby Lobby” decision favoring private companies’ ability to decide whether to insure birth control for their employees, Governor Quinn announced last Sunday that voters can voice their opinion on the ballot this November.
That question, in addition to two other advisory questions and two constitutional amendments, showcases Quinn’s attempt to gain popularity in the state where, according to the latest Reboot Illinois poll, Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bruce Rauner, has taken an early lead.
In June, Reboot Illinois partnered with the pollster company We Ask America, and found that 47.2 percent of the 1,075 Illinoisans who responded would vote for Rauner, compared to the 37.1 percent for Quinn.
Other recent polls highlighted Illinois voters’ dissatisfaction with its legislators, which reporters say will have an impact what’s expected to be the country’s most competitive governor’s race.
A recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University found that 89 percent of 1,001 voters felt corruption is somewhat common in Illinois, and 53 percent believe corruption is very common.
A Gallup Poll conducted late last year showed Illinois has the most residents wishing they could leave if they could, with 26 percent of them unhappy for business and work-related reasons.
The birth control referendum brought a wave of support that may help legislators turn public opinion around. According to the Reboot Illinois poll, while Rauner still led the votes by about 6 percent, more women than men would vote for Quinn.
In a statement published July 2nd, Planned Parenthood called the Supreme Court decision a “severe blow” to women’s rights and applauded Illinois legislators for passing the bill for the referendum question.
Legislators sponsoring the referendum have collectively received over $50,000 in campaign contributions from pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood and PACs over the past two years.
Twelve of the twenty-two sponsors of the referendum bill were recipients of $18,687 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood and of $31,980 in funds from the pro-choice political action committee, Personal PAC Inc..
Quinn’s campaign organization has received $7,750 from Planned Parenthood and $1,400 from Personal PAC Inc. since 2012.
“We are fortunate to live in a state that protects women’s rights to contraceptives,” the Planned Parenthood statement read.
Skeptics of the referendum call it a political fanfare to attract female voters.
The advisory public question, meant to gage public opinion on the issue, will not result in any mandated legislation change. The question will read: “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?”
Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy (D-Chicago) filed the referendum bill the House this past February. In addition to funds Cassidy received from Planned Parenthood, PAC Inc. has made $7,515 in payments to Cassidy’s campaign since 2012.
In addition to general campaign contributions, Personal PAC Inc. has paid for costs like postage, telemarketing, and printing for state legislators in both the House and the Senate.
The highest donation recipients since 2012 are Camille Y. Lilly (D-Chicago), who has received $8,387, Mike Smiddy (D-Port Byron), who has received $6,264, and Maria Antonia Berrios (D-Chicago) who has received $4,991.
The birth control question is one of five to appear on the ballot in November, three of which are advisory public questions. The other two resolutions, that for a crime victim’s bill of rights and an official amendment guaranteeing the right to vote, would be added to the state constitution upon a majority vote.
Other incentives to increase voter turnout include a bill Quinn signed into law last week allowing residents to register to vote on Election Day. The bill also increases the number of days and hours available for early voting.