The Following Illinois Counties Voted in Favor of Forming Their Own State

Earlier this week, I wrote about several counties in Illinois that approved by large margins a referendum to discuss the possibility of forming a new state excluding Cook County. I contacted New Illinois, the organization which I believed spearheaded this effort, and found out the referendum was actually the brainchild of a group called Illinois Separation.

Still, New Illinois Chairman G. H. Merritt graciously provided me with a list of Illinois counties that have voted on the referendum and the percentage and number of votes in favor and against (which I fact-checked). The issue has appeared on ballots for just two elections: the Illinois primary election in March 2020 and the general election that just took place on November 3rd.

In nearly every instance, the percentage in favor met or exceeded 70% (with one exception, Christian County, which voted 69% in favor). 80% of voters in Jasper County voted in favor of the referendum. Here is the list (percentages have been rounded up):

November 2020

County% Yes% NoYes VotesNo Votes
Bond72%28%5,6772,196
Christian69%31%6,8583,049
Clark73.8%26.2%6,0322,141
Cumberland77%23%4,4111,285
Edwards78%22%1,584452
Hancock76%24%4,7761,495
Jasper80%20%3,786925
Johnson73%27%4,5371,654
Lawrence74%25%4,5281,547
Marion71%29%11,8554,814
Massac70%30%4,5531,961
Moultrie70%30%4,6101,969
Pope71%29%1,469606
Pulaski73%27%4,5371,654
Richland74%26%5,7671,977
Shelby73%27%8,4703,189
Wabash78%22%4,2141,160
Wayne74%20%6,3091,671
White74%26%5,3151,851

March 2020

County% Yes% NoYes VotesNo Votes
Effingham73.8%26.2%5,6382,001
Fayette78.64%21.36%2,735743
Jefferson74.02%25.98%4,4161,435

Of course, these 22 counties represent less than 1/4 of all Illinois counties outside Cook, but the vote totals are hard to ignore. To my knowledge, no one has previously attempted to put this issue to a vote (at least in recent memory). It must have come as a surprise even to its organizers. These are landslide results in any estimation.

Although both New Illinois and Illinois Separation include northern Illinois counties in their plans for a new state, only east-central and southern counties south of I-72 and I-74 have put the referendum on the ballot. In my experience having grown up in Illinois and living in various parts of the state, this region is much more distinct from the Chicagoland area and it makes sense that voters in these counties would be first to proclaim their interest in separation.

In terms of practical results, these nonbinding resolutions don’t mean much, but as an indicator of popular sentiment, they are very revealing. From now on, local politicians will be able to point to these results if they choose to advocate in Springfield for the creation of a new state. It will be tough for critics to argue that the idea has no popular support.

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

One thought on “The Following Illinois Counties Voted in Favor of Forming Their Own State”

  1. We in the non-Cook County parts of the state share so little politically, socially, and ethically with Chicago that separation is only logical. Some of us have proposed the new territory to be called the Shawnee Free State, harking back to the earliest history of the state.

    Liked by 1 person

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