A nonpartisan Illinois citizens group submitted 65,000 pages of signatures to the Illinois State Board of Elections earlier this month for a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to change redistricting procedures in light of the coming November elections. Independent Maps — a statewide coalition composed of volunteers and state business, philanthropic, religious and political groups — collected and delivered more than 570,000 signatures to the election board’s Springfield office on May 6. The petitions call for an amendment to be placed on state ballots for a vote this November. The amendment would take the power of redrawing state legislative districts away from legislators and give it to an independent commission.
Jim Bray, an Independent Maps spokesman, said the current method of redistricting in Illinois is “not healthy for representative democracy,” as it allows the political party in power to ensure district lines protect its legislators in elections. “There’s a conflict of interest for (legislators) because they’re drawing maps that will benefit them or punish the people that are not in power,” Bray said. “It means that they really are picking the voters they want to be in their districts (and) who will send them back to Springfield.”
The constitutional amendment would create an independent 11-member commission, Bray said. Citizens would nominate themselves for seven positions, and the state auditor general would review the applicant pool to see which citizens are eligible to redraw districts before randomly picking the seven citizens from a final pool of 100.