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Sometimes, it’s the little bills that count

Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012

* Sen. Terry Link has an interesting little bill. State law currently allows churches and private schools which host election day polling places to ban all political signs from their properties. Here’s the summary

Provides that nothing shall prohibit the placement of temporary signs within a private dwelling in a public or private building where a polling place is located. Provides that nothing shall prohibit the placement of temporary signs on the doors or windows of a private dwelling in a public or private building so long as that private dwelling is located on a different floor than the polling room or that private dwelling is located a distance of at least 100 horizontal feet from each entrance to the polling room if the private dwelling and polling room are located on the same floor. Denies home rule powers.

The bill passed the Senate Executive Committee 8-4 yesterday. From the SJ-R

Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 3669, said he has received complaints about how private settings, like churches and private schools, that host polling places can ban signs on their property, but public schools and park districts can’t.

“I’m not saying that they have to have signs 365 days a year,” Link said. “I’m saying that one day, like every other polling place, allows them 100 feet away from the door.”

Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, took issue with Link’s plan.

“You’re comfortable with state government instructing a church that you’re going to allow political signs on your property?” Righter said.

Link’s response: “On that one day, they are renting to the state, county, federal, whoever, to operate as a polling place, so they are no longer a private entity. They are a subsidiary of the state where they are renting to us for that one particular day.”


* Meanwhile

A proposal to require all Illinois high school students to complete four years of math in order to graduate appears to be on hold for at least another year.

In action Tuesday, a Senate panel approved legislation to form a special task force to further study the four-year requirement, which was floated earlier this year in response to concerns raised by employers and college officials.

State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Gifford, said students are going to college unprepared for math classes and then entering the workforce without adequate math skills.

He had hoped to boost the state requirement for math from three years to four years, but a number of education groups and fellow lawmakers raised questions about how much it would cost, whether it would eliminate some class offerings in other subject areas for students and what types of subjects could be classified as math.

* And

Illinois lawmakers might be ready to look the other way if an underage student takes a sip of alcohol as part of a cooking or food-service class — as long as he or she doesn’t swallow it.

The Senate Executive Committee Tuesday approved Senate Bill 758, dubbed the “sip and spit” bill at the Statehouse.

It would allow people between the ages of 18 and 21 to taste alcohol if they are part of a culinary arts, food service or food management program at an accredited institution. An instructor must be present, and the alcohol cannot be swallowed.

The bill was inspired by schools that teach culinary arts.

* Roundup…

* Editorial: Find a fix for LPN program

* Illinois House OKs entrance fee for state parks

* Park fees needed for maintenance, say advocates and lawmakers

* Editorial: Consider fees to state parks

* Brady looks for changes to tuition break program

* File a House Committee witness slip online

* More Illinois judges, required raises mean we pay 29% more in 8 years

* Springfield collecting overdue parking fines through state tax refunds

* Central IL synthetic drug distributor uncovered

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    I’m inclined to go with Richter regarding private property rights. You can rent from them for polling places, but they set the terms. If you don’t like it, rent somewhere else.

  2. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    The 4 years of math is a bad idea. Our entire education system has been destroyed by the assumption that all productive members of society must go to college. Forget the 4th year of math and spend the money on vocational classes.

    If you live in southern IL less than 1/2 of these kids are going to college. 1/2 of those won’t have jobs when they get out.

    Some of the most productive members of our communities never went to college. It is time for the State to stop assuming you need a degree to be a productive member of society.

    Not to mention the cost. This will make many kids(most of who will never go to college anyway) spend 5 years in High school to get that 4th credit. Who is going to pay for it?

  3. - soccermom - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    So if I rent my garage to Link, he has the right to post signs in my window? Put up statues in my front lawn? Hang banners from my roof? I don’t think those entities are renting out their entire property - -just the gym, or auditorium, or whatever. Their willingness to allow voters in on election day is a great thing and expands access; we shouldn’t make them sorry they said yes…

  4. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 10:54 am:

    Sip but not swallow? Banishments for life to follow for comments posted. Oy boy!

  5. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    I think the legislation is interesting but is this really a problem? In smaller communities the availability of suitable polling places within precincts is often very limited. If churches and other private entities don’t want the signs and refuse to continue as polling places it really ties the hands of county clerks. wordslinger is right – the landlord sets the rules. If you don’t like it take your bat and ball and go someplace else.

  6. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    I’m with Link. If a private entity wants to host a polling place, it opens itself to the electoral process. The candidates’ names are on the ballots inside, but we can’t allow signs with their names outside?

    Yes, in some instances a private facility is doing the election board a favor by making itself open as a polling place. But I think it’s troublesome to try to separate legally protected free speech from the process of voting. The two go hand in hand, and if there are strong objections to signs, then a private property owner should not agree to host this activity.

    Are they going to ban passers next? Can passers wear buttons, or can buttons and palm cards be prohibited too on private property?

  7. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    I don’t see how a law forcing churches to display political signs, some representing candidates with platforms against religious doctrines, could be constitutional. I wonder what the Archdiocese would have to say about this.

    I wish Link would support getting rid of these signs in front of our public schools. It’s a disgusting display of political graffiti students have to wade through on election day.

  8. - Niles Township - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:06 am:

    I’d love to see research on whether people even notice all those signs at polling places and whether it ever influences their vote. I see polling place signs as a nuisance. That is different that signs a neighbor may put up expressing support.

  9. - lincoln's beard - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:06 am:

    This is going to be great if we ever see an abortion or gay marriage related referendum on the ballot. Can’t wait to see what the Catholic bishops have to say about being forced to tolerate pro-abortion or pro-gay signage on their churches’ lawns.

  10. - Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    I am sympathetic to Sen. Link’s argument, but the net effect of passage of this bill will be that some facilities that currently serve as polling places will no longer serve. Some of our current polling places in Champaign County have stated that allowing political signs on their property is a deal-breaker for them, and the miniscule rent we pay them won’t be much of an incentive to remain.

    This bill will force election authorities to find new polling places that aren’t as well suited to the task in terms of accessibility, visibility, location, space, parking, etc. Also, wholesale changes in polling places will obviously be very disruptive if we are forced to make changes right before a Presidential election.

    I hope the bill’s supporters will reconsider in light of the challenges faced by election administrators.

  11. - mark walker - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    Political signs in windows on the 2d floor, don’t seem right to me. Perhaps it should be minimum 100 feet in any direction.

  12. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    Do we really want to deny someone a high school diploma because they didn’t take Intermediate Algebra?

  13. - In 630 - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    If there’s one thing the last several years have driven home to me is this: there is no subject (broadly speaking) more important than math.

    The people who are getting a leg up today and for the foreseeable future are the ones with serious math skills.

  14. - so.... - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:14 am:

    Link’s logic is flawed. The venue in question is renting (or donating) a specific room or group of rooms for use as a polling place. They are not renting their entire property.

  15. - McLean Farmboy - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    Using Sen. Link’s logic, if the state rents that proeprty for the day, then it would become state property for the day and I thought you could not post political signs on state property.

  16. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:25 am:


    Really bad idea on multiple levels.

    First in some areas the only building option might be a church and if the church would rather not have the signs, congratulations you may lose the polling place.


    Provides that nothing shall prohibit the placement of temporary signs on the doors or windows of a private dwelling in a public or private building so long as that private dwelling is located on a different floor than the polling room or that private dwelling is located a distance of at least 100 horizontal feet from each entrance to the polling room if the private dwelling and polling room are located on the same floor. Denies home rule powers.

    So you can put a sign up in the window of a parsonage if it is on church property but more than 100 feet away?

    So I could put a sign on the altar? It reads to me if it more than 100 feet from the door into the room where the equipment is I can.

    Oh, but they wouldn’t you say… Want to bet?

    Beyond stupid. I think I am comfortable saying that if this passes my church will take a pass on being a polling place. Good luck finding a accessible location within a mile or more.

  17. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:27 am:

    Nothing in the roundup about the Governor failing to apply to FEMA for Public Assistance in order to help cover the costs of the City of Harrisburg public agencies for the tornado response.

    {In a press release issued on Wednesday March 21st, Quinn said, “I remain committed to obtaining any and all assistance available to help our Southern Illinois communities recover.”

    When News 3 discovered Quinn had not applied for FEMA’s public disaster aid, we called his office asking for an explanation.

    Quinn’s representatives promised to get back to us within a few hours, but they never did.}

  18. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:30 am:

    “a number of education groups and fellow lawmakers raised questions about…what types of subjects could be classified as math.”

    Um, I’d say that’s further proof that the legislation is needed.

    But here’s some more reasons why its in lawmakers’ self-interest.

    1 in 4 Illinoisans think that the top source of state revenue is the corporate income tax.

    1 in 4 Illinoisans think that our state’s top expenditure is prisons or universities.

    Illinoisans do not have the foundation in mathematics to understand the simplest facts about the state budget.

    This leads to the widely-held beliefs that we can increase spending for programs voters care about — education, human services and health care — without raising taxes. And, conversely, that we can lower taxes by making cuts that don’t affect the things voters care most about: education, human services and health care.

    As long as voters lack the basic skills needed to understand the state budget and follow along in the debate, lawmakers and the governor will be caught in an impossible Catch-22.

  19. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    The only risk of the 4 years of math is it might discourage someone taking a harder math their senior year. For example I failed calculus my senior year in High School (did better at it in college), so with that failure would I be not able to graduate? It ended up with 6 years of math due to taking Geometry in summer school so I was on track to take calc my senior year and a programing class I took was called computer math and a math credit as well.

  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    I understand what I think Link is REALLY trying to get at, but I think its ill-conceived.

    The real problem is that polling places housed in private buildings can be selective about whose signs they allow and whose they don’t.

    So, for example, there are union halls in Illinois that post their own candidate signs, but no one else’s.

    And its not actually hard to imagine a school allowing signs to be posted in support of a referendum on election day but prohibiting signs from opponents.

    TECHNICALLY, all the signs posted in right of ways on election day are there illegally, but those ordinances are rarely enforced.

    As someone who hates yard signs and would rather not have to deal with them at all on election day, I’m inclined to oppose Link’s measure.

  21. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    My church serves as a polling site. The gymnasium is used for that purpose. During the week all the machines, and boxes are delivered. Demands are made that they be secured under lock and key. The place is periodically inspected to make sure it is adequately lit and handicapped accessible.

    Our gym schedule is completely rearranged for our Parishioners to accommodate the public under the guise of public service as is an entire wing of the building.

    On election day our church hires someone to work from 4:30 am and stay as long as it takes. In past years sometimes until midnight, recent elections by 9-10:00 p.m.

    On election day there is a small little mob of campaigners who hand literature to parishioners and try to give them the last second hard sell, who are walking towards the front door of the church instead of the gym. A lot of hard feelings are created.

    The following day, the area around the church has to be policed for signs, literature that is tossed by voters, etc. The machines, etc. get stored for at least another week until someone picks them up, again under lock and key.

    Our Parish Council has asked many times, for offering this matter as a public service (a public school is across the street) is it worth the aggravation and cost which the rental does not cover?

    If this bill passes, expect my Parish to take a pass on hosting future precincts during elections.

  22. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:41 am:

    I’m opposed to using churches as polling places anyway. No one should have to gaze upon religious iconography to simply cast a ballot! And I do not like the thought of government payments to churches for the rent. What if the religious establishment’s theology or practice is revolting to the average citizen (ala Westboro Baptist)?

    But I kind of disagree with the idea that because they’ve become a polling place any signage can be put up because of that.

    Math skills are important, but many students are stupid (hey, just being honest) and can’t learn advanced math. Should they be prevented from getting a diploma because of this? Or even worse, should math classes be dumbed down so the rocks can pass them?

  23. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:46 am:

    I have no real problem with the extra year of math, but get students to do consistently better on basic math. At our place, we have people who struggle to get a simple, daily count correct on how much product was used by a crew of ten so they get paid correctly and we keep the needed stock on hand. We have others who, without a calculator, can not determine how many cases are in a 3 pallet shipment. Not everyone needs advanced calculus, but basic skills and some good algebra would go a long way in employment settings.

  24. - Rod - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:55 am:

    From the article Rich linked to on high schools requiring 4 years of math I have no idea what the curriculum vision is in expanding the math requirement to four years. So is the vision for four years of math that students would take being Algebra, Geometry, Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, and College Algebra/Analytic Geometry?

    Senator Frerichs comment about Illinois students not being prepared for college math does not explain how an additional year of math will solve that problem.

    Since the key issue here at the college level is drop-failure-withdrawal rates which average 45% for Elementary Algebra, and in Intermediate Algebra at many non-competitive colleges why not increase the rigor of the existing math classes in many high schools in our state.

  25. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:57 am:

    “A proposal to require all Illinois high school students to complete four years of math in order to graduate appears to be on hold for at least another year.”

    I’d like to extend thanks to the Illois Assembly for this decision on behalf of all foreign citizens being brought into our country to fill employment openings requiring math expertise.

  26. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 11:58 am:

    There’s math and then there’s ‘math.’ Four years of a combination of the two isn’t going to hurt anyone. And I’m a person who really hated math, but had I had to take Algebra for Dummies, Computer Math I and II, plus Geometry, I would have been fine. Not happy about it, but it would have worked itself out.

  27. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 12:29 pm:

    What about high schools that offer two period block classes for math to help struggling students. This already costs my district more, could we opt out of the four year commitment? (We also offer block reading classes for students behind their reading grade level.) These block classes eliminate many elective choices.

  28. - Church Voter - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 12:31 pm:

    The most important criteria (no particular order) for a polling are 1)the ease to which it can be found, 2)availability of parking, 3) safety, 4)a certain degree of comfort for voters and judges, 5)true accessibility for the disabled.

    As far as I’m concerned, any polling place that is the best for the precinct ought to be able to deny signs. The idea that we would turn down an ideal location just to pick a poor location that would allow signs is ludicrous. You could be possibly disenfranchise voters just so politicians can put up largely worthless polling place signs.

    Polling places should allow either no signs or any signs. No picking and choosing.

  29. - Responsa - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 12:37 pm:

    What? The robocalls, door to door visits, mailings, signs along roadsides and TV commercials aren’t enough to help voters decide?

    I’ve voted and worked the polls in polling places in several states in sites from rural villages to city precincts. Nobody–nobody pays attention to the hodgepodge of signs that clutter and litter the area at exactly the legal limit distance on election day. Most of the signs remain overnight and some even stay for days because the candidates don’t have the courtesy and decency to send someone from their campaign staff to remove them. A better bill would be to greatly lengthen the allowable distance from all polling places and/or to allow any polling place property owners to ban signs on their land– not just schools and churches.

  30. - Bigtwitch - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 12:56 pm:

    I believe students can learn not to swallow. I know some learned not to inhale.

  31. - titan - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 1:00 pm:

    The exemption from the “anything goes on the property of the polling place” signage rule for private schools and churches was because they won’t consent to be polling places otherwise - and there is a real need for them as polling places. The likely result of this Bill is a loss of good polling place locations, and the need to use worse locations.

  32. - downstate commissioner - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    Would somebody clarify something-I was under the impression that it was illegal to post political signs on government property. I have returned signs posted in the city right-of-way, and would never allow signs on the township property.
    From reading this, it would appear that I could be forced to allow political signs, or does that just apply to polling places?
    By the way, our consolidated polling place, chosen mainly because of accessibility and space (both parking and setup), is owned by a local veterans association. It is flat-out the best place in our town to hold elections. I don’t think that this bill would go over very well with the people that control this building.

  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:01 pm:

    There are instances where polling places are on state property where I have seen campaign signs reularly placed on that property with the appropriate distance requirements) but still on state property. Doesn’t that violate some law?

  34. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    As usual TL is going at it all wrong. Reverse the concept. No political signs should be placed on governmental property period.

    Rather than mess with peoples’ property rights, simply prohibit all political signs to be more than 100 feet away from the property line of any polling place.

    Problem solved

  35. - Union - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:26 pm:

    Instead of legislating 4 years of Math, why doesn’t the General Assembly pass a bill that outlaws stupidity, so that will solve all educational issues right? *snark*

    Requiring more of a subject doesn’t make for better students and better outcomes. For some students ……..less is more.

    I think students need to pick a flexible career path. One path is for going into a trade, one for white collar jobs, one for non-trade blue collar jobs, and make the options as diverse as the job market.

    We forget that most teachers want to teach but some students don’t want to learn. Have you ever wanted a 2 year old to eat his veggies and he says no and refuses? Not until the 2 year old decides to eat it will he eat it.

    Same with math, forcing more math on students who hate it already won’t make them smarter….just more stubborn.

  36. - reformer - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:09 pm:

    A church doesn’t have to be a polling place. When it agree to be, however, it shouldn’t be able to prevent candidate signs on election day. I agree with Link this time.

  37. - Shore - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:23 pm:

    1. I’m for 4 years of math. In todays day and age that should be a must do. A lot of students take the first 2 years-pre algebra/algebra/and geometry in junior high anyway. I would also be for a massive expansion of AP classes.

    2. The sip or swallow bill is I am sorry, funny. This is one of those things I didn’t think would rise to the level of the state legislature. It seems like something that should be done at a more local level.

    3. When is someone going to introduce the ridiculous hairbraiding bill?

  38. - Liberty First - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:47 pm:

    The state has over regulated education for 25 years driving up costs with few results.

  39. - wishbone - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:48 pm:

    “It seems like something that should be done at a more local level.”

    Or maybe in the sake of sanity not at all. It’s a cooking class people. Lighten up.

  40. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 4:02 pm:

    Before this recent election, I spoke for some time to a DuPage County Election official about sign locations (to make sure my crews complied with election laws). He spoke about the combination of budget cuts, interference with public school schedules, and many other things affecting the number of polling locations which are significantly less than last year. These factors, plus redistricting, caused many precinct polling locations to be shaken up, combined, and changed.

    He indicated that the shear hassle of having a polling place in your building is becoming quite a hassle, and he felt that the churches should indeed be granted to right to exclude signs from their property. Not only is it THEIR PROPERTY, but he was having an ever more difficult time finding places to place polls.

    This law is ill-advised.

  41. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 4:13 pm:

    Oh, one more factoid. Of the 97 polling locations in SD23, 43 were churches, and all of them requested and displayed the “No Electioneering” sign on their properties.

  42. - Colossus - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 4:42 pm:

    I’m with Plutocrat all the way on this one - NO signs allowed and the problem’s solved. This is an issue that only the dedicated staffers and candidates care about, while 95% of the population couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, that 95% is only going to hear about how churches are being “forced” to put up signs for things that go against their religious beliefs. Combine that with the lingering ridiculousness of the contraception debate at the national level and there is great potential for this to blow up in someone’s face.

  43. - Mongo - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 7:45 pm:

    Senator Link is absolutely right.

    Wanna be a polling place? On that one day signs must be permitted as if the place of worship is a public entity…because it is.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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