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Chicago Separation from Illinois Referendum Reaches Ballot

In November, Madison County voters will be asked whether Cook County, which includes Chicago, should separate and form a new state. Madison County has a history of proposing non-binding referendums.

A resolution to place a nonbinding advisory referendum regarding separating Chicago and Cook County from the rest of the state of Illinois was passed 15-7 by the Madison County Board on Wednesday, April 17.

The vote came after numerous speakers both for and against, and sometimes intense discussion by board members.

Madison County voters in November will now be asked via referendum to answer this question, "Shall the board of Madison County correspond with the boards of other counties of Illinois, outside of Cook County, about the possibility of separating from Cook County to form a new state and to seek admission to the Union as such, subject to the approval of the people?"

The population of Cook County is 5.27 million people, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. The rest of Illinois' population is 7.54 million people.

The last two states to join the United States were Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.

Madison County Board member Mike Babcock, R-Bethalto, supported the resolution when the resolution started with the Government Relations Committee. When the resolution was passed out of the Government Relations Committee on April 2, Babcock said Chicago-area politicians "do not represent our values."

The Madison County Board has a history of proposing nonbinding referendums.

In 2018, voters approved a nonbinding referendum declaring Madison County a "sanctuary county" for gun owners. Then-Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said it was not enforceable.

In 2020, Madison County voters overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding referendum asking whether Illinois General Assembly members should be prohibited from receiving automatic salary increases.

This 2024 nonbinding referendum that pushes the idea of downstate Illinois separating from Cook County to go into effect would require the approval of the Illinois General Assembly and governor, then be approved by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed by the president.

(c)2024 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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