Historically, the need for redistricting reform is an issue that has been supported by leaders on both sides of the aisle. During this year's State of the Union Address, President Obama addressed the need for having an independent commission draw legislative districts. President Reagan made a similar argument during his last days in office. To ensure that redistricting is addressed in this year's presidential campaign, a diverse, non-partisan coalition in Illinois has quietly been collecting signatures on petitions to put an important election reform on the November ballot.
If successful, Illinoisans going to the polls on Nov. 8 will be able to vote to make future state legislative races more competitive and ensure their voices are heard in Springfield.
The Independent Map Amendment would reform the way legislative district maps are drawn, and end the current process that allows politicians to manipulate elections by drawing districts to advantage a political party or incumbent.
“The current system puts politicians in charge of drawing their own legislative maps, and as President Obama said in his State of the Union address, that’s an obvious conflict of interest,” said FitzSimons, who also is Chairman of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “By allowing legislators to pick their voters, instead of voters picking their legislators, the system has discouraged competition. In fact, it’s the major reason only one candidate was on the ballot in 60 percent of Illinois legislative elections in 2014.”
Under the Independent Map Amendment, maps would be drawn by an independent, 11-member commission representing the demographic and geographic diversity of the state. Legislative Districts would be drawn without regard to incumbency or political party, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities would be protected.
To qualify for the ballot, the coalition must collect at least 290,216 valid signatures of registered voters. The coalition has collected close to 500,000 signatures and has a goal of turning in 600,000 signatures this spring.