New Illinois

New Illinois logo, provided by G.H. Merritt

Several counties in Illinois on Tuesday passed nonbinding resolutions by wide margins to create a new state, separate from Chicago and Cook County.

Questions posed to voters in various counties asked if they should join with others outside of Cook County to create a new state.

In Clay County, nearly 80 percent of voters approved the question. Nearly 73 percent of Shelby County voters approved, while 63 percent of Christian County voters did so and in Crawford County, nearly 76 percent of the voters said yes.

A group tracking the movement, called Red State Secession, counted 24 counties that approved it, with most votes being between 70 percent to 80 percent in favor.

Last month, the chairman of New Illinois, a nonprofit group organizing the efforts, said it’s about constitutional rights to representation.

“The guarantees clause of the U.S. Constitution, it guarantees us a republican form of government,” Merritt said. “What’s that? That’s where we have a voice, where we’re represented, but unfortunately our state government is very Chicago focused. Laws get passed, policies get put in place that may be in the best interest of a large urban area but they're not in the best interest of a rural state like Illinois.”

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said downstate Illinois needs Chicago.

“I think the benefits of Chicago outweighs the negatives of the entire state,” Ford said.

Others who want to split from Chicago to create a new state have said Chicago’s crime is a problem.

“The people in downstate Illinois, in rural parts of Illinois, believe it or not as I’ve said, they benefit from the crime that happens in Chicago because they have the prisons that they're able to have jobs and an economy based on the crime that’s happening in Chicago,” Ford said.

Among the steps needed to create a new state from within an existing state is the approval of the state legislature and then approval from the U.S. Congress.

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