Wehrli Champions Improved Ballot Transparency through Taxpayer Advocate and Empowerment Act

State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) has signed on as the primary Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation that would create a searchable database where Illinoisans could go to learn about every issue that will come before them on an election ballot.

HB 2726 would create the Taxpayer Advocate and Empowerment Act, and through the office of an appointed Taxpayer Advocate, Illinoisans could access an online, comprehensive, easy-to-use database to obtain complete descriptions of ballot questions that will come before them. “Today, most county clerks provide a ‘ballot look-up’ so that voters can see what their ballot will look like,” said Wehrli. “HB 2726 takes that much further, by listing every race and providing a summary of every referendum question that will appear on a specific ballot. The site would be searchable by individual addresses, so information would be detailed down to the specific precinct.” Wehrli explained that Illinois currently has more than 8,000 individual units of government and an average property tax bill could include more than 10 different taxing districts. “We need to encourage voters to educate themselves on the issues before the head to the polls,” Wehrli said. “With the passage of HB 2726, rather than doing research on several different web sites, taxpayers would be able to go to one site and learn how various ballot issues would affect them.”

Through HB 2726, a Taxpayer Advocate would be appointed to an eight-year term through a joint resolution approved by a three-fifths majority of the House and Senate. That individual could hire two Deputy Taxpayer Advocates, and the office would establish a comprehensive web site, to include the following:

  • a list of every item, either in the form of an individual candidate or question, that will be printed on the ballot for the next immediate election
  • a description of each office up for election on the ballot that contains any relevant data necessary for the taxpayer to easily identify the duties and powers of the position, for example, length of term and qualifications 
  • a description of each ballot initiative or question that enables the taxpayer to easily identify what the question deals with, what the financial cost of the question will be, who will be impacted by the question, what was the genesis of the ballot initiative, how long the proposed initiative will last, and who brought forth the proposal 
  • any tools or resources for taxpayers to effect change before or in response to a specific ballot question or initiative or candidate; this may include, but not be limited to, a publication and description of any and all voter-initiated measures that a voter may initiate in his or her jurisdiction 

“A well-functioning democracy relies upon an informed electorate,” added Wehrli. “As lawmakers we should be making it as easy as possible for voters to become educated about the issues they will be asked to vote upon.”