Voters in various counties in Illinois were asked if they should join with others outside of Cook County to create a new state--that doesn't include Chicago.

Before anyone gets too enthused (or really angry) about the notion of two states of Illinois, Chicago and Downstate, I should point out that the ballot questions were "non-binding resolutions," or the Election Day equivalent of asking for opinions, not voting on a legal mandate.

If you've lived here in the Rockford area (or other areas of the state that aren't Chicago) for any length of time, I'm sure that, like me, you've heard this discussion off and on for years.

It's inspired by several different schools of thought. One is that the rest of the state is tired of Chicago draining tax dollars away from everywhere else in the state. Another is that Illinois is labeled as a "blue state," when most of the state outside of Chicago, Rockford, and other larger cities often votes red, not blue. A recent candidate for governor lost the election even though he carried 90-plus counties out of Illinois' 102 counties because he did not carry Cook and a few collar counties.

In Clay County, nearly 80 percent of voters approved the question. Nearly 73 percent of Shelby County voters approved, while 63 percent of Christian County voters did so and in Crawford County, nearly 76 percent of the voters said yes. A group tracking the movement, called Red State Secession, counted 24 counties that approved it, with most votes being between 70 percent to 80 percent in favor.

New Illinois is the non-profit group that's spearheading the efforts to split things up, and they say it's about constitutional rights, in particular the right to representation:

The guarantees clause of the U.S. Constitution, it guarantees us a republican form of government. What's that? That's where we have a voice, where we're represented, but unfortunately our state government is very Chicago focused. Laws get passed, policies get put in place that may be in the best interest of a large urban area but they're not in the best interest of a rural state like Illinois.

I didn't see this question on my ballot when I went out to vote on Tuesday, but I find it intriguing. If it ever comes up on Election Day, which way would you vote?


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