By Greg Bishop/Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – More than 60 percent of races for Illinois’ Statehouse will be uncontested in the November election.
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, or ICFPR, said only 39 percent of Illinois General Assembly races are contested. Compared to similar states, Illinois falls way behind. California has a 77 percent rate of competitive elections.
Sarah Brune, ICFPR executive director, said voters want to speak their mind on Election Day, but big spending coupled with a lack of competition can breed voter apathy.
“A low amount of contested elections is, I think, another thing that makes the voters feel as though they don’t have a say in this process,” Brune said.
Brune said Illinois’ competitiveness is much lower than in California or Ohio, which both have a competitiveness rate approaching 80 percent. That may be because those two states have something Illinois doesn’t – term limits.
“California had 79 percent contested elections and Ohio had 77 percent, and so after looking at those we thought there must be something going on here,” Brune said. “We looked a little bit deeper and realized both those states do have term limits, so by a matter of fact some of their elections are going to be more competitive because incumbents are ineligible to run.”
One in five incumbents in California are not eligible to run because of term limits.
Of the six most populated states, Texas is the only state that has a competitiveness rating below Illinois at 36 percent.
Brune said there was slightly more competition in Illinois general election races in 2014, at 42 to 43 percent competitiveness.