How about some good news about citizens taking control of their own government? The citizen-led Independent Map Amendment initiative easily cleared hefty signature requirement hurdles, was deemed valid and won tentative approval Monday to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed to try to thwart it. In a first for an Illinois redistricting attempt after two previous attempts in 2010 and 2014, commissioners on the Illinois State Board of Elections declared the signatures valid, giving a tentative green light to the ballot question that would ask voters if they want an 11-member independent commission to design state legislative districts rather than letting ruling politicians draw them. “This is a huge hurdle that we’ve cleared and it’s one that no redistricting amendment has so far cleared in Illinois, so we’re very excited,” said Dave Mellet, campaign manager of the Independent Map Amendment. When this was tried in 2014, “they realized this is a pretty massive undertaking and there’s a lot you need to learn about duplicate signatures,” he added, “so to get to 290,000 valid signatures is a huge step.”
Steven Sandvoss, executive director of the elections board, told commissioners a random sample of 5 percent of the voter signatures the group turned in showed map workers had far surpassed the minimum required number of 290,216 valid Illinois voters’ signatures, so a second, random sample was not needed.
A similar citizen effort in 2014 failed at this stage when the sample showed problems with many of the signatures. Two years ago, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva ultimately ruled the previous independent redistricting effort unconstitutional because it would have banned commissioners from running for public office for 10 years after serving on the commission. The new redistricting proposal does not include that restriction.