Cutback Amendment

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The Cutback Amendment is an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that abolished multi-member districts in the Illinois House of Representatives and the process of cumulative voting.[1] Before the amendment Illinois voters could vote three times for one candidate or spread their votes between two or three candidates. Three members were elected per district. When the Cutback Amendment was approved in 1980, the total number of House representatives was reduced from 177 to 118. The movement to pass the bill was largely led by Pat Quinn and Bus Yourell.

The amendment was passed via a referendum and popularly seen as a way to punish the legislature for voting itself a 40% raise.[2]

Calls for repeal[edit]

Since the adoption of the Cutback Amendment, there have been proposals by some major political figures in Illinois to bring back multi-member districts. A task force led by former governor Jim Edgar and former federal judge Abner Mikva issued a report in 2001 calling for the revival of cumulative voting,[3] in part because it appears that such a system increases the representation of racial minorities in elected office.[4] The Chicago Tribune editorialized in 1995 that the multi-member districts elected with cumulative voting produced better legislators.[5] Others have argued that the now-abandoned system provided for greater "stability" in the lower house.[6] A recent effort in 2010 called the Putback Amendment led by John Bambenek also would have restored cumulative voting, but it ultimately did not qualify for the ballot.[7]


  1. ^ "Cutback Amendment". Illinois Issues. November 1980. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  2. ^ "Illinois drives to revive cumulative voting". April 21, 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  3. ^ "FairVote - Illinois' Drive to Revive Cumulative Voting". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  4. ^ "FairVote - Black Representation Under Cumulative Voting in Illinois". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  5. ^ Farrell, John. "Cumulative Voting – Illinois | Institute for Local Self-Reliance". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  6. ^ "32 Illinois Law Review 1937-1938 Cumulative Voting in Illinois". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  7. ^ "Illinois Legislature Reform Amendment (2010)". Retrieved 2015-06-01.