Unfortunately, that step means letting Illinois' political machines whack at
their reform attempts.
|PUZZLE PIECES: Illinois lawmakers draw the maps they want to
"We anticipate a lot of scrutiny," Mike Kolenc, the campaign manager for Yes
for Independent Maps, told Illinois Watchdog. "This a lot of power that the
status quo would be giving up. We expect a robust challenge to our signatures,
and we're ready for that."
His group has collected nearly 500,000 signatures to get a new redistricting
process placed on the November ballot, well more than the 298,000 needed.
If Kolenc and his group get their way, voters will decide if a computer should
be given the job of drawing Illinois' political boundaries, or if lawmakers will
continue to draw lines that benefit them.
"This is not about pointing out which districts are drawn incorrectly. This is
about putting in place an independent process that is transparent, drawing maps
with nonpartisan criteria," Kolenc added.
Illinois uses a commission made up of five Democrats and five Republicans to
draw its political map once every decade. A drawing determines the 11th
member, and thereby decides whether Democrats or Republicans will control the
"Drawing a name out of Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat," Kolenc said.
He said, in effect, the process allows lawmakers to choose their voters and not
the other way around.
Illinois went to the commission map process after ignoring political maps for
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David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for
Political Reform, said Illinois voters approved the commission and
lawmakers quickly started to use it to their advantage.
"The maps comply with the constitutional requirements that they
be substantially equal in population and contiguous and such, but
the maps also have the added feature of magnifying the political
power of the party that drew them," Morrison said. "That outcome was
not intended, and of course runs counter to the goal of holding free
elections for public office."
But the powers that be are dismissing the push for a new process as
simply the whining of the political party out of power.
"Over the last 50 years, five maps," House Speaker Mike Madigan told
reporters earlier this week. "Republicans have done one out of five.
They're angry, and this is part of their Republican politics. That's
all there is."
Kolenc said both Republicans and Democrats have a lot invested in
the current redistricting process, and he expects neither party to
give that up without a fight.
Redistricting reformers expect to deliver their 500,000 signatures
to Illinois' State Board of Elections next week.
article courtesy of
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find
him on Twitter: @BenYount.
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