The very first item Crawford County voters will see on their ballots Tuesday is one that's already causing some concern and confusion.
The first issue on the Crawford County ballot this election is a proposed amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution, which reads:
"Upon approval by the voters, the proposed amendment, which takes effect on Jan. 9, 2013, adds a new section to the General Provisions Article of the Illinois Constitution. The new section would require a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber of the General Assembly or the governing body of a unit of local government, school district, or pension or retirement system, in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system. At the general election to be held on Nov. 6, 2012, you will be called upon to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.
"If you believe the Illinois Constitution should be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote "YES" on the question. If you believe the Illinois Constitution should not be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote "NO" on the question. Three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election must vote "YES" in order for the amendment to become effective on Jan. 9, 2013."
The Illinois General Assembly currently has 118 members. Under existing law, it takes 61 members to pass legislation regarding pension increases. If the proposed amendment is approved, it will take 71 votes to approve an increase.
Some of the confusion over the ballot question is what happens if a voter chooses not to vote on the issue. According to the notice directly above the issue on the ballot, "failure to vote on this ballot may be equivalent of a negative vote."
The notice also states that "a convention shall be called or the amendment shall become effective if approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the general election."
So if a voter chooses not to vote on the issue, it could be considered a "no" vote, depending on the total voter outcome. If three-fifths of the votes counted on just this issue are "yes" votes, the amendment passes. If, after counting all the ballots in the state and the number of "yes" votes on the issue is greater than the majority of total votes, the amendment is approved and will go into force Jan. 9, 2013.
For example, if 5 million people vote in Illinois this election, it would take a majority vote to decide the issue. But if only 3 million vote on the issue, (2 million choose not to vote) then three-fifths of 3 million would decide the issue.