CARBONDALE — Six in 10 registered voters asked think state government in Illinois is more corrupt than in other states, according to a new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
Roughly 58 percent of respondents to the recent poll said Illinois government is more corrupt than in other states, about 37 percent felt other states were just as corrupt, and only 2 percent felt Illinois was less corrupt.
The findings are the latest from the institute housed at SIU Carbondale, which surveyed 1,261 registered voters statewide between Sept. 4 and Sept. 10. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.77 percentage points. They will be presented Thursday in Chicago at a symposium focusing on ethics and reform in state government. The institute is a sponsor of the event, along with The Joyce Foundation and the Union League Club of Chicago.
The poll will also be the keynote topic at an upcoming Community Leaders Breakfast sponsored by The Southern Illinoisan’s Southern Business Journal.
“We don’t need a survey to show that there exists an ethics problem and a need for reform in Illinois,” reads a white paper from the institute on the poll. “With our two most recent ex-governors in federal prison, our status as the butt of late-night comics’ jokes, and even academic studies showing Illinois among the most corrupt states in the nation, the question is not whether there is a problem, but what is its extent, and what ought to be done.”
People’s attitudes on state government corruption trickle down to the local government level too. Poll results show 41 percent of people asked think their local governments are just as corrupt as the state’s; roughly 19 percent feel their local officials are more corrupt than in the state; and about 36 percent find their local government less corrupt.
This view even extends to businesses in Illinois, as 62 percent of poll respondents believe corruption was widespread in the business community as well. Variant responses ranged based on race and income.
Other poll results include:
- Roughly 50 percent of Illinoisans asked trust the honesty of state elections outcomes, which is about the same level of confidence a 2008 Gallup World Survey reported people in Iran and the Czech Republic having in their elections.
- About 85 percent of people polled want to know who has been reported to the State Legislative Ethics Committed for alleged violations. Current law only requires the Legislative Inspector General to report the number of allegations.
- The majority of poll respondents approve of implementing a five-term limit on state representatives and a three-term limit for state senators. The limits were based on the assumption of being consecutive terms. Voters also largely favor term limits for those in legislative leadership positions, like the Illinois House Speaker or state Senate President.
- 56 percent of people polled strongly favor and 14 percent somewhat favor Illinois moving to open primary elections, where voters do not have to choose a party ticket to participate. Roughly 70 percent of people who characterized their political leanings as independent and 62 percent of people who called themselves moderates favored the change.