Can we stop a corrupt remap? Yes we can

The Quad-City Times’ Kurt Erickson writes:

“Although it flies under the radar of the general public, the [Illinois state-level Democratic Party] success means Democrats get to control the redrawing of the state’s political map – an every-10-year exercise that has a profound effect on who gets elected in legislative and congressional districts across the state.”

Losing control of the redistricting process is one of the biggest disasters that resulted from last Tuesday’s election. But are Illinois Republicans completely powerless to impact the process? Of course not.

If our dozens of General Assembly Republicans marshal their bully pulpits, tap private sector communications talent and finally choose to get aggressive – they can rally both the public and the media into supporting a fair map.

A year ago the State Journal-Register editorialized about “The absurdity of Illinois’ system for redrawing legislative and congressional district boundaries after each Census…” They noted the 17th Congressional District, which is “shaped like a mutilated crocodile.”

The editorial quoted Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, who called Illinois’ redistricting the “root of all evil” at the Capitol. It noted Republican Sen. Dale Righter’s three principles of redistricting reform:

  • Politicians should not draw the lines.
  • Those who do draw the lines should not take incumbents’ residence into consideration.
  • The voting history of those who live in a district cannot be factored in.

Gerrymandering” is one of those unfortunate American traditions that never was appropriate. As columnist George Will summed it up, voters are supposed to choose their representatives, not the other way around through the creative drawing of districts.

This scandal, if properly exposed, has potential to deter bad behavior by Illinois Democrats.

Wikipedia‘s page on redistricting includes this:

“Redistricting…is the process in the United States of changing political borders. This often means changing electoral district and constituency boundaries, usually in response to periodic census results.

In 36 states, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan, in many cases subject to approval by the state governor. To reduce the role that legislative politics might play, 5 states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington), carry out congressional redistricting by an independent or bipartisan commission.

Iowa and Maine give independent bodies authority to propose redistricting plans, but preserve the role of legislatures to approve them.”

Earlier this year a few groups attempted to get a referendum on the ballot to outlaw the corrupt practice of Gerrymandering. Unfortunately, they failed.

That failure and the election losses last week, though, doesn’t mean the fight is over. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.

To read a report by the Illinois Legislative Research Unit from late 2008 titled “Legislative Redistricting in All States,” click here. To read about one of the nation’s best redistricting examples – Iowa – click here.

P.S. Recommended reading: The Top Ten Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts in the United States.