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What's next for the local referenda voters saw on their ballots?

The election is over, but the work is just beginning for many Illinois government officials and residents tasked with implementing the results of local referenda.

Earlier this month, voters across the state decided on 157 referenda. Since different types of referenda exist, the next steps for each one varies.

A referendum is a question of public policy appearing on ballots. Some referenda involve tax policy, which will impact revenue generation at the local government level.

Other referenda are lumped into a miscellaneous category and could relate to any number of issues, from issuing bonds and consolidation of taxing districts to sales of recreational-use cannabis and whether to allow chickens inside city limits. Miscellaneous questions made up over 50% of the total referenda Illinois voters saw on ballots this November.

Many referenda don't require action at all. A non-binding referendum, or advisory referendum, is a question to the voters that does not carry with it the force of law. These questions give voters the opportunity to share their opinion on issues without requiring government action.

While not enforceable, these types of non-binding questions can be beneficial, because they can be used to gauge public sentiment. A vote in support or in opposition of a contentious issue can speak volumes to elected officials.

Many referenda are binding; they require local officials to act upon the results of the vote. OF the referenda that appeared on ballots in Illinois this November, 123 of them are binding and now require implementation.

Now that the election is over, that work can begin. Visit your county government website or the Illinois State Board of Elections at to track election results and action in your area.

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