A State Journal-Register editorial last summer discussed the “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.
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.”
The League of Women Voters and other groups have been pushing a referendum to outlaw the corrupt practice of Gerrymandering, and their website sums it up this way:
“Thousands of Illinois voters have been circulating Illinois Fair Map Amendment petitions for four months. Thanks to them and you we’re making a difference and helping other Illinois voters understand why the Amendment is so important to Illinois. Voters are signing the petition because they want to elect their legislators, not the other way around.”
Recently they extended their internal deadline for collecting signatures to April 16th. Since I haven’t been able to ascertain how close they might be to achieving the required number of signatures, I hesitate to suggest that people put time into the effort.
There is a great need for volunteer activities that will be rewarded, and unless the Fair Map supporters go public with their count, look for a better way to donate your time.
Whether or not the referendum makes the ballot, the issue deserves ever more attention – especially from our Republican caucuses in the General Assembly.
To learn more about the proposed Fair Map click here. 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.