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CARBONDALE -- A poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute shows that the majority of a sample of Illinois' registered voters regard political corruption as commonplace in the state.

The poll of 1,001 registered voters was released Monday and reported that 89 percent of those surveyed feel that corruption is "somewhat common," with 53 percent saying it is "very common."

Downstate voters were harsher, with 60 percent believing state political corruption as very common. The margin for error in the poll was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

"No, it's not surprising, but it's sad and something needs to be done about it," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. "Government can't function with this much distrust in it."

Overall, 85 percent of the Chicago residents surveyed viewed county or city political corruption as at least somewhat common.

"It's hard when a big chunk of your state has a decades-long ingrained reputation for corruption," said Charles Leonard, a visiting professor at SIU who helped direct the poll. "It's easier for the citizens to assume corruption than to do their homework."

In terms of local political corruption, downstate voters had the least amount of distrust in the system, with 54.1 percent saying that corruption was at least somewhat common.

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The Chicago suburbs was the next-lowest at 57.8 percent.

"Getting into government service isn't to make money, get a fat pension or get a job for your cousin, it is to serve the public," Yepsen said. "This hurts us for economic development and economic growth."

Personal impact was another survey question, with 47.2 percent of the downstate voters saying that local political corruption had "some, but not much" effect on their lives.

"The more voters who are turned off, the smaller the number of people who are making big decisions," Leonard said.

Both Yepsen and Leonard believe redistricting needs to take place in the state, as well as a vigorous prosecution of corrupt offenders.

"We need high-level government reform," Leonard said. "I think if Illinois can get redistricting done, it will go a long way toward changing peoples' attitudes on how politics are conducted in this state."

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