An unusual move by Illinois election officials has injected new controversy into a fight over who wields the crucial power of drawing Illinois’ political maps, with supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment complaining that insiders are undermining their efforts. The political intrigue was heightened when the state elections board abruptly decided to overrule its own hearing officer and shorten a key deadline for those seeking to prove the proposal has enough valid signatures to be placed on the statewide ballot in November.
The hearing officer will listen to arguments Friday on the fate of the measure, which would strip Illinois’ most powerful politicians of their authority to draw district maps that help determine who wins elections. Many of them oppose it, most notably House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Supporters say they suspect that had something to do with the board’s recent ruling that effectively gave the group less time to build its case. “It smells of politics,” said Michael Kolenc, campaign manager for the bipartisan group Yes for Independent Maps.