Westel Woodbury Willoughby.

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enumeration of county oflScers) cannot be properly applicable to
counties which range from 7000 inhabitants to 3,000,000. In
connection with the question as to whether time is likely to
diminish the present discrepancies in population of the several
counties, attention should be called to the fact that twenty-four
counties actually decreased in population in the twenty year
period between 1890 and 1910.

The first generation of statehood in Illinois by its organization
of counties fixed to a great extent the permanent political basis
of local government for the state, and this basis was determined
in part by the more difficult means of transportation in the
earlier days. The influence of the early division of the state
into coimties is not that of a dead hand, for the counties have
now become a definite part of the consciousness and sentiment
of the people of the state. This is true, not merely of the coun-
ties of larger population, and probably not so true of counties of
large and growing population as of the counties which have
remained stationary or gone backward. It may be urged that
the counties which are not progressing in population should to
a large extent be disregarded in the planning of the political
future, but even if this were admitted, these counties together
have a political influence which can effectively block action.

The counties are likely to remain the chief areas of local
government and the chief units in other areas, and there is no
present likelihood that they will become more nearly equal in



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POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY AND STATE GOVERNMENT 267

area or population. Something of value might be accomplished
by a redivision of the state into coimties more nearly comparable
in population, although in the more sparsely settled parts of the
state this would involve the creation of counties much too large
for effective local government. On the other hand, there is
much to be said in favor of preserving areas which have a his-
torical backgroimd, and which have established themselves in
the sentiment of the people rather than splitting the state into
districts or counties on a purely utilitarian basis. Sentiment
will unite with other influences to prevent the division of Cook
Coimty in furtherance of a plan to establish a more effective con-
solidated government for the city of Chicago; and it is likely
that any consolidation, if effected, will take place within the
limits of the existing coimty rather than by the carving off of a
new county composed of purely urban territory.

In connection with the problem of a possible readjustment
of coimty areas it should be borne in mind that the coimty is
i\pw the chief unit of party organization, and that political
parties always look with suspicion on anything in the nature of
a new deal. The county has been the unit of political party
organization for a long period. Senatorial districts, congres-
sional districts and judicial circuits are artificial areas which are
subject to change or possible change at definite intervals, and for
which new party organizations must be constructed upon the
basis of coimty units.

It may be said that there is a direct antithesis between large
and small areas for governmental purposes; or rather the anti-
thesis may be said to be one between the more or less accidental
county areas now existing and the plan of establishing a series
of new areas for the purposes which are now largely met by the
coimty as a unit. This antithesis has an important bearing
upon the problems of proportional representation and of judicial
specialization, for these matters involve larger districts than at
present, except in so far as they may be worked out in larger
metropolitan communities.

The county is and for a long period has been the unit of party
organization, largely because of the fact that an important



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268 THE AMEBICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE BEYIEW

group of local officers is elected from the county as a unit; parties
tend naturally to desire a perpetuation of this plan, and a con-
tinuance without diminution of all local officers, inasmuch as
each elective county officer serves as an added element of local
political strength for the purpose of winning at the polls- For
the same reason a party organization will always prefer to do
away as far as possible with larger areas, and to have elections
from each county as a unit rather than from a larger district.
From the political standpoint there is a distinct basis for this
attitude, and it should also be borne in mind that the attitude
just spoken of has not merely a basis in party organization, but
also a basis in local county sentiment.

At the present time there are fifty-one senatorial districts in
Illinois. Of these seventeen are in Cook County, and three
coxmties (St. Clair, Peoria and La Salle) each constitute a single
senatorial district. The other counties of smaller population
are necessarily grouped, and the number of counties in a sena-
torial district ranges from two to seven. From each senatorial
district there are three representatives and one senator, and
where there are more than four counties in a senatorial district
(and there are eight such districts) it is, of course, necessary that
all of the counties in excess of four have no members from their
own borders in either of the two houses of the general assembly.
Where a number of counties of small population are grouped
together, each county may have a relatively equal chance of
obtaining one or more of the four members of the general assem-
bly, and which counties shall actually have no members within
their borders depends largely upon local political considerations,
upon plans of rotation, or upon other factors. The objection of
small counties to such a plan is not based so much upon the
opinion that they are discriminated against with reference to
each other, as to the fact that each county does not have actual
representation from within its own borders. Separate represen-
tation of each county in some manner cannot be accomplished
imder the existing plan, and this is, perhaps, the chief political
objection to the plan.



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POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY AND STATE GOVEBNMENT

On the other hand where a single small county is grouped with
a large county actual discrimination may result, and the citizen
of the smaller coimty may have little chance of election to either
house of the general assembly. For the session of 1919 there
were four districts composed of two counties each, in which a
large county had the three representatives and the one senator,
and the small coimty no representation from within its own
limits (Will and Dupage, Kane and KendaU, Sangamon and
Morgan, Madison and Bond). A county with a population
well above the minimiun of the state might be practically certain
of having members in the general assembly if it were grouped
with small counties, whereas its citizens might find it practically
impossible to obtain election to either house of the general
assembly if the same county were grouped with one large coimty.

In the session of 1919 there were twenty-four counties which
had no member in either house, but eight of these counties were
counties in excess of four in a district, and in such districts some
counties necessarily were unrepresented. Sixteen of the twenty-
four counties which were unrepresented in either house of the
general assembly had a population of less than twenty thousand,
but there are thirty-seven counties in the state with a population
of less than twenty thousand and it is hardly possible to say
that there is now a material underproportion of small counties
represented in the membership of the two houses. To some
extent the failure of a coimty to have a representative at one
session in either house of the general assembly may be compen-
sated by representation in a prior or later legislature. The
theory of rotation among coimties is oftentimes of influence
where there are several counties in a senatorial district. Atten-
tion should, however, be called to the fact that the scheme of
rotation has an undesirable influence upon the continuity of
membership of the two houses, and leads to the selection of
members for a definitely political consideration rather than
upon the basis of ability or experience in office.

It is probable that there are few issues arising in the general
assembly in which a county, as such, will suffer because it has no
member of the general assembly from its own borders. Perhaps



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270 THE AMEBICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW

the state system of highways adopted by the general assembly
in 1917 was such an issue, although this is doubtful.

The present system of judicial circuits is one which leads
to a greater degree of combination of counties than does the sys-
tem of senatorial districts. There are seventeen judicial circuits
outside of Cook County, and three judges are elected for each
circuit. In 1919, the fifty-one judges came from fifty coimties,
Peoria County being the only one which had two of the judges
for its circuit. There are two circuits of three coimties each,
and the others range from four to twelve counties. With one
hundred and one coimties divided into seventeen circuits, each
circuit electing three judges, it is, of course, necessary that at
least fifty counties have no circuit judges elected from within
their borders. In general, the smaller counties of a judicial
circuit are not able to have judges chosen from their borders,
although in at least two cases the smallest county in a circuit
has a circuit judge (6th and 14th circuits). There were but five
counties in the state having a population below twenty thousand
in 1910 from whose borders circuit judges were elected, although
by the census of 1910 there were thirty-seven counties having a
population below twenty thousand. With the larger area of
circuits, the facts seem to indicate that it is more difficult to
elect a judge from a county of smaller population than from a
coimty of larger population within the same circuit, and this
fact (if it be a fact) has some bearing other than the purely polit-
ical one, for with respect to representation in the general assem-
bly and with respect to judicial positions there is a disadvantage
in having areas so constituted as to deprive persons of the possi-
bility of election because of the counties in which they may
chance to live. In the operation of the judicial system the
county which has elected a judge from within its borders also
has an advantage, for in the intervals between terms of court
the judge will be available in his own county for the transaction
of certain types of judicial business.

The suggestion has already been made that other areas than
the county are artificial, at least from the standpoint of party
organization, and there may be some value in having a diflferent



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POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY ANP STATE GOVERNMENT 271

and an artificial area for judicial elections. The constitution of
Illinois provides a separate election date for judges, and a dis-
tinct lessening of the purely political factors may be accom-
plished by electing judges from a separate and artificial area
created for that purpose alone, rather than by electing them
from the county which is a unit of the most eflfective party or-
ganization. This matter is referred to in order to call atten-
tion to the fact that there may be no need for absolute unity
in local governmental areas, and there may be an actual
advantage in a lack of unity as to some matters. Of course, in
connection with judicial areas it should be borne in mind that
although periodical apportionments are permitted with respect
to circuits and to supreme court judicial diirtricts, there is now a
distinct inequality of the population in these areas. As to cir-
cuits the constitution does not require an apportionment merely
on the basis of population but provides that districts shall be
formed ''having due regard to business, territory and population."

Attention has already been called to some of the issues in-
volved in the use of the county as the primary governmental
area and to the problems involved in the proposal to create new
and somewhat uniform larger areas for all purposes. Politically,
the fear of a new deal and the fear of possible party consequences
due to the reduction in the number of elective local offices raise
a substantially insuperable barrier against the creation of new
districts for simplified government.

On the other hand, the use of the county as a unit for all
purposes involves practical difficulties of a serious character.
From a political standpoint the thing perhaps most desired is
that each county be represented in either one or both of the
houses, and that each county elect the judges who are to preside
over the courts sitting within the county.

With counties varying as much as they do in population, to
give to each county separate representation even in the more
numerous branch of the general assembly makes a legislative
body too large, if other parts of the state are at the same time
to be represented in proportion to their population. The rule
of representation in Illinois since the establishment of the state.



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272 THIS AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW

and the rule in the great majority of the states, has been to give
representation in substantial proportion to population. Of
course, there is another and older principle of representation of
areas not based upon population but somewhat modified by the
factor of population, and it may be possible to adopt such a plan
without increasing too greatly the membership of either or
both of the houses. It may be possible, also, to carry out to
some extent the notion of separate county representation, but
to unite small counties for representative purposes so as to
accomplish the purpose aimed at, not completely, but merely in
so far as the variations of county population may seem under
the circumstances to make advisable.

It has been a policy in Illinois since the beginning of state-
hood to limit the membership of the two houses. By the con-
stitution of 1870, an absolute limit of fifty-one senators and one
hundred and fifty-three representatives is set, and the rule is
laid down requiring decennial reapportionments on the basis of
population. This means that when one part of the state in-
creases more rapidly than another part, it obtains imder a re-
apportionment an increase of representation at the expense of the
other part of the state, forcing a redistribution and involving
necessarily the loss of office by some members of the general
assembly who came from other parts of the state imder an
earlier apportionment. In Illinois, Cook Coimty has increased
more rapidly in population than the rest of the state, and each
new senatorial district assigned to Cook County has involved
taking away a senatorial district from the rest of the state, with
the necessary readjustment of political areas and the necessary
retirement from political life of some persons who might other-
wise have continued in the general assembly from districts out-
side of Cook County. This factor has had a good deal of influ-
ence in the creation of the present feeling of the other parts of
the state against Cook County. This feeling is not based purely,
or perhaps primarily, upon the fear that Cook County may
dominate the state politically, although this fear has been present,

A good illustration of what is likely to occur if the member-
ship of either or both of the houses is unlimited appears in the



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POLITXCAL GBOGBAPHY AND STATE GOVXRNMBNT 273

national house of representatives. Decennial apportionments
take place upon the basis of population, and there is no limitation
as to the number of members of the federal house. Each state
desires to retain the number of members which it has, and all
of the members of the house from that state naturally have the
same desire. If the states which have not increased in popula-
tion, or which have increased slowly, are to retain the same
number of representatives, necessarily the states which have
increased more rapidly in population must obtain upon a pro-
portional basis additional representatives, and this forces a
steady increase in the number of members of the house until
that body has became cumbersome and ineffective. Somewhat
the same influence may be seen in connection with the Chicago
Fifty-Ward Act which was rejected on a referendum in Chicago
in 1919. The ward apportionment in Chicago was upon a
thirty-five ward basis with two aldermen from each ward, and
the new legislation if adopted sought to bring about a more
equitable apportionment upon the basis of popxilation and to
reduce the nmnber of aldermen to fifty, one from each ward^
thus making it necessary that at least twenty aldermen should
retire from the city coimcil.

If a reapportionment is likely to result in increasing the num-
ber of offices, there is a definite political incentive to make such
a reapportionment. If, oh the other hand, a reapportionment
necessarily results not only in a redivision of territory, the
political consequences of which are uncertain, but also in an
actual reduction of the nimiber of positions to be filled, there will
normally be a distinct reluctance to reapportion. As has
already been suggested, this is the situation with respect to
senatorial apportionments in Illinois, and although the feeling
against increasing Cook Comity's representation has some defi-
nite indq)endent basis, the failiu*e to make a senatorial reappor-
tionment in IDinois since 1901 (althoxigh decennial reapportion-
ments are commanded by the constitution) is due largely to
the natural reluctance to diminish the number of members of the
two houses for the rest of the state.



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274 THE AMEBICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW

The problem of representative areas in Illinoi3 is materially
complicated by the issue as to representation between Cook
County and the rest of the state. Cook Coimty has increased
in population much more rapidly than the rest of the state, and
has steadily taken a larger proportion of the fixed number of
senatorial districts. Cook County, in 1910, had about 43 per
cent of the population of the state, and in 1920 is likely to have a
larger proportion of the population. There is a natural reluc-
tance to have one urban community control the majority of the
members of the two houses, although as has already been noted,
this reluctance has been strengthened by the fact that a gain of
representation for Cook County means a loss of representation
for the rest of the state, and a necessary loss of seats by some
persons who may aspire to continue in the general assembly.

Cook County's representation is one of the most important
questions before the constitutional convention now in session in
this state. It is probable that some plan to limit representation
will be proposed, but whether the -limitation will apply to both
houses or only to one of them is still in doubt. The problem is
complicated by the cumulative voting system under which each
senatorial district now elects one senator and three representa-
tives. No district can be constituted with less than three repre-
sentatives if the cumulative system is to be maintained, although
there now seems to be a very definite agreement that this system
should be abolished.

Once the number of senators and representatives for Cook
County is agreed upon, the problem of apportionment within
that county is divorced from the problem of local areas else-
where. There remains, of course, the problem of the relation-
ship of representative districts within Cook County to other
local areas such as city wards in Chicago and townships in Cook
County outside of Chicago. However, if the number of legisla-
tive members for the remainder of the state continues to depend
upon the number to which Cook County is entitled, there will
remain the definite political issue which presents itself through a
possible future increase of Cook County representation bringing
a proportional reduction in the actual number of existing repre-
sentatives from other parts of the state.



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POLITICAL GEOGBAPHY AND STATE GOVERNMENT 275

With respect to the problem of judicial reorganization the
counties of small population present a more serious issue than
they do with respect to the state representative sjrstem. The
small amount of business in some of the counties would make it
substantially impossible to use each county as the area for the
organization of the state judicial sjrstem, and at least with
respect to the lesser counties a single court of original jiuisdic-
tion for each coimty as a unit would probably result in a great
deal of waste. With reference to the problem of judicial organ-
ization, Cook County is not now of relatively great importance,
for since 1870 Cook County has constituted a separate judicial
circuit, and since the establishment of appellate courts, Cook
County has constituted a separate appellate district. The one
problem of political importance in judicial reorganization affect-
ing Cook Coimty is that regarding the supreme court election
districts. There are now seven districts of imequal populations,
and Cook Coimty is united with four other counties to form the
seventh district. The seventh district with one member of the
supreme court had under the census of 1910 more than 46 per
cent of the total population of the state.

CONCLUSION

From what has been said above it will be noted that the con-
stitution-makers in Illinois have a number of important prob-
lems before them with respect to governmental areas. Shall
each county be represented in the general assembly? Shall any
one county be limited in its proportional representation? Shall
larger judicial areas be maintained, or shall a county system of
courts be established? Shall a simplified system of local govern-
ments be put in the constitution itself?

The constitution of 1870 contains numerous details as to
governmental areas, and a number of limitations which have
forced the multiplication of local governmental areas. The
problems to be dealt with in connection with local areas are so
complex that they cannot be adequately handled in a document
of permanent application. It is easy to discuss and decide such



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276 THB AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE BEYIEW

matters upon a theoretical basis and to place provisions in a
constitution which at the given time seem to meet the situation,
but the problems change and the constitutional solution fails
because of its rigidity. The constitution of 1848 introduced a
good deal of detail as to local governmental areas, and the con-
stitution of 1870 increased this detail. The present constitu-
tional provisions have not operated satisfactorily.

In connection with this discussion, attention should be called
to another matter. For years there has been an active discus-
sion of city government, and a somewhat active discussion of
the problems of coimty government is now under way. But
the issues of city government or of county government cannot
be separated from the other issues connected with the problems
of local government in general, and of political areas for other
purposes than those of purely local government within the state.



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LEGISLATIVE NOTES AND REVIEWS

EDITED BY CHARLES KErTLEBOBOUGH
Director of the Indiana Legislative Reference Bureau

Legislative Investigations. Legislative investigations, on which
future legislation is to be b^sed, were authorized in 29 states during the
sessions of 1918 and 1919. Even though the reports of severial of these
conunissions or conunittees have been made and acted upon, it seems
worth while to give them in the list as they serve to disclose the drift
of public sentiment on mooted public questions. The subjects engag-
ing public attention most widely and on which legislators desire further
information before enacting laws include highwa3rs; the ownership and
operation of public utilities; education; the care of the aged, feeble-
minded, insane, dependents and delinquents; the judiciary system;
pensions, annuities and retirement allowances; public finances; the
standardization of salaries of public officials; the development of the
water and hydro-electric power of the state; efficiency and economy in



Online LibraryWestel Woodbury WilloughbyThe American political science review → online text (page 27 of 77)