Springfield – The Senate Republican Caucus is asking the people of Illinois to speak up and help put a fair maps amendment on the ballot for the next election, giving people the power to pick their legislators instead of letting lawmakers pick their voters.
“Under our current legislative remap process, the partisan voting histories of voters who live in a district are used to draw the maps,” said Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry). “That process ultimately discourages competition, reduces voter choice and limits the impact of a foundational principle of citizenship – the right to vote.”
Every 10 years, following the decennial U.S. Census, Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps are redrawn. State legislative districts are also redrawn. Illinois currently has a winner-take-all system for the redistricting process, where the politicians who are in control right now have the power to draw the maps for the next 10 years. This gives them the ability to shift district lines to create an advantage for the members of their majority party, which is often referred to as ‘gerrymandering.’ This system is what creates strangely-shaped districts and uncompetitive elections.
“This manipulation of the voters is why I am supporting the effort to put Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 (SJRCA4) before the voters,” said Wilcox.
The proposal is sponsored by lawmakers from both parties. It would give voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing maps. It would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings allowing Illinois residents to weigh in.
“A healthy democracy requires competitive elections and new ideas. To accomplish that, we need to take the power of drawing legislative maps away from politicians and give the people of this state the opportunity to vote on a new redistricting system,” said Wilcox. “SJRCA 4 ends drawing of legislative districts in secret behind closed doors and gives voters a chance to create a system that increases transparency – and takes politicians out of the process.”
SJR-CA 4 would place the question of fair maps on the ballot for the next statewide election. So far, however, entrenched political leaders haven’t allowed similar bills to advance, despite a nationwide call for fair map plans from members of both parties.
You can voice your support for fairer maps in Illinois by clicking on this link and signing the fair maps petition.