Skokie Referendums On Term Limits, Ranked-Choice Voting Set For Ballot

SKOKIE, IL — Along with casting their ballots for president this November, Skokie voters are set to also have a chance to have their say in a pair of new electoral changes.

One referendum would impose three-term limits on all village positions — mayor, trustee and clerk — effectively allowing a resident to hold each of those positions for no more than 12 years each.

The other proposal for the Nov. 5, 2024, ballot would swap Skokie to a ranked-choice voting system, also known as “instant runoff” elections.

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In that system, voters rank multiple candidates, and if no candidate wins a majority of No. 1 votes, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated, their votes are spread among remaining candidates based on the ranked and, so on until someone gets a majority.

The term limit referendum question had been proposed on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, but the board delayed a vote on it following a substitute motion from Trustee Edie Sue Sutker.

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“While I agree with the question on the ballot on the term limits, I would also want to delay that so that we could also propose a question on the ballot about ranked-choice voting. As long as we’re doing one, I think we should do both,” Sutker said.

“It’s come to my attention that there’s a— voters are asking for that,” she added. “And then it will be up to the voters what they decide.”

Sutker appears to have been referencing a petition campaign launched last month by Trustee James Johnson.

Johnson, the only board member who is not a member of the Skokie Caucus Party, is running for village clerk in next April’s elections. (The position has been vacant since former Village Clerk Pramod Shah retired on Jan. 3 after 14 years as Mayor George Van Dusen has yet to appoint a replacement.)

Ranked-choice voting is used by two states and dozens of jurisdictions so far. Its proponents say it reaches about 13 million voters.

In 2021, New York City’s first attempt at ranked-choice voting resulted in the election Mayor Eric Adams and some criticism of the board of elections.

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In 2022, Skokie’s neighbors in Evanston approved a ranked-choice voting referendum by a margin of more than 4-1. Evanstonians will become the first in Illinois to vote in such a fashion in next April’s municipal elections.

Electoral reforms approved by Skokie voters in November 2022, including electoral districts, staggered elections and a lack of party affiliation on the ballot, will also first come into play next year, with four district-level trustees to be elected to special two-year terms to begin the new staggered schedule.

On Monday, Skokie village trustees voted unanimously to ask staff to bring back proposals for referendum questions regarding both term limits — the clock for which would only begin ticking once it is approved — and ranked-choice voice for the agenda at the April 15 meeting.

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