A West Central Illinois county has joined about two dozen other counties in the state that have approved a referendum to separate from the State of Illinois.
Brown County voters approved a separation referendum on Tuesday night 1,444 to 441 to advise their county board to explore ways to leave Illinois.
Brown joined Hardin and northeastern Madison County on Tuesday in approving such a referendum. 23 other counties in the state have passed non-binding referendums during the 2020 elections with similar language. The question of whether or not a county can secede from a state in the first place is in dispute despite their being precedent for it occurring back in the early 1800s.
Tensions between downstate and Chicago and the suburbs have been growing over the last decade. Democrats, due in large part to liberal voting blocks in the northeastern corner of the state, have dominated the statehouse and the state’s executive offices causing a rift in policy and ideas of governance. Separation movements have been emboldened by recent elections showing Republicans winning downstate while losing in major cities, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago suburbs. The separatist movements have explored seeking to make downstate the 51st state or to have counties get annexed into neighboring states.