Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let's Play Taps for the Old Maps

by David Hiller, President and CEO

Yes for Independent Maps recently posted a great YouTube video that uses comedy to illustrate the farce of the current methods for establishing voting districts in Illinois.


Hopefully this “backroom redistricting” video can help bring greater visibility to an issue that has needed reform in the Illinois legislature for a long time. The essence of this piece shows how a small group of elected officials gathers every 10 years to draw their own voting districts, ensuring the status quo remains in effect indefinitely. The video nails just how cynical this practice is and shows a pathway to reform.

There is strong, growing bipartisan support to create an independent commission to draw fair district maps within Illinois. The McCormick Foundation is supporting this important work, and I am doing so personally as well. We need to end this hidden practice that serves only politicians trying to keep themselves in office, and contributes to the polarization and grid-lock we see in Springfield.

Map reform in Illinois can take this out of the hands of the politicians like many other states have done. It creates an independent commission, with open and transparent processes that will help us keep “communities of interest” intact, rather than politicians in gerrymandered districts.

But to begin making these needed changes, we’ll need your active support. This ballot initiative needs 300,000 petition signatures by May 4 to get a proposed amendment to the Illinois constitution onto the November 4 ballot.

What can each of us do?

I am carrying the petition form with me, collecting signatures from folks I encounter in the course of the day.

We are going to face opposition from those who enjoy things the way they are. Nonetheless, I’m truly hopeful that this effort will allow us to live in a state with voting districts that look less like “toenail clippers” and “manatees,” and more like areas defined by citizens and communities.

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