The Illinois Fair Map Amendment

A Citizens’ Movement to Take Back Illinois Government
by Brad McMillan
Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, Bradley University

Do you believe that Illinois state politics needs real reform? If so, there is something that the state’s registered voters can directly impact that can dramatically improve Illinois government for future generations. The Illinois Fair Map Amendment seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2, 2010 ballot that would finally overhaul the crazy way that state legislative districts are drawn following a 10-year census. But we need the help of concerned citizens to sign and pass petitions to make this critical change.

Under the current redistricting system, politicians, in secrecy behind closed doors, choose their own voters. In addition, if the political parties cannot agree on legislative maps (which they have not done over the past 30 years), then a Republican name and a Democratic name are placed in a hat and whichever party is drawn gets complete control of the map-drawing process. We are the only state in America that has this ludicrous winner-take-all lottery system. The results of this process are some of the most gerrymandered legislative districts in the country with 98 percent of incumbents being re-elected.

To finally change the redistricting system so that the best interests of Illinoisans are placed ahead of political self interests, a broad coalition including the Illinois League of Women Voters, members of the Illinois Reform Commission, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Better Government Association, Common Cause and the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce have banded together to push for the Illinois Fair Map Amendment. This amendment would turn over the redistricting process to an independent, bipartisan commission that would be required to conduct all of their open meetings with complete transparency and receive public input. The amendment also does away with drawing names out
of a hat.

Importantly, the Illinois Fair Map Amendment also:

  • Fully protects minority voting rights by containing the verbatim language of the federal Voting Rights Act into the language of the Amendment, thus becoming part of the Illinois constitution
  • Requires 2/3 legislative approval of the commission’s maps to ensure bipartisan support
  • Requires that legislative district boundaries should follow visible geographic and municipal boundaries, to the extent practical
  • Prohibits party registration, voting history or incumbency to be considered in the map-drawing process, except when necessary to comply with federal law.

In order to place the Illinois Fair Map Amendment on the November 2, 2010 ballot, we urgently need all citizens who truly care about bringing back good government to Illinois to get actively engaged. The coalition is looking for 500,000 signatures of registered voters on petitions by the end of April. To access petitions for your voting jurisdiction, simply go to the website at ILFairMap.com and carefully follow the instructions.

For example, if you are a registered voter in the City of Peoria, you sign a different petition than voters who live in Peoria County but outside the City of Peoria boundaries. Additionally, the petitions must have the language of the amendment on the back side of the petition that is being signed. When you print off the petitions from the website you will get two pages: one being the petition and the second page being the language of the Fair Map Amendment. These two pages need to be copied into a one-page document with the petition on the front side and the amendment language on the back side.

I am sorry for the excruciating detail, but it is very important that we have the petitions filled out properly. The coalition fully expects that the political powers that have had a stranglehold on Illinois government will fight us every step of the way. The Illinois Fair Map Amendment is a citizens’ movement to take back Illinois government. And, fair maps are the first step towards bringing competiveness and accountability to our Illinois political process. So, if you are truly unhappy with Illinois government, please sign and pass the petitions. iBi


To read the exact language and background information on the Illinois Fair Map Amendment, go to ILFairMap.com.

 

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