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Have You Signed the FairMap Petition Yet?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 23, 2010 5:40PM

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The state constitution requires that "in the year following each Federal decennial census year, the General Assembly by law shall redistrict the Legislative Districts and the Representative Districts." This means that legislative districts in Illinois will be due to be redrawn in 2011 after this year's census. This year, a movement to change the way Illinois draws legislative districts is under way. Currently, redistricting is controlled by the General Assembly in a convoluted process governed by party leaders downstate that involves the drawing of names from a hat. The result of this process, which happens away from public input and scrutiny, is that legislators have the opportunity to draw their own districts, keeping their seats safe, and their incumbency protected.

The IL Fair Map Amendment aims to change how this happens. The League of Women Voters, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and other reform-minded groups have banded together to pass a citizen’s initiative to change the way redistricting is done in Illinois. In order for their initiative to appear before Illinois voters on this November's ballot, the coalition must collect 500,000 signatures by April 1, 2010. In a nutshell, the IL Fair Map Amendment would establish a temporary, independent commission of nine people (two chosen by each of the four legislative leaders, and the ninth elected by the eight other members), require public meetings on the matter across the state, and require a two-thirds vote by the state legislature for approval. To sign the petition (which, like most ballot and constitutional matters in Illinois is complex and specific), check out the IL Fair Map Amendment's website. For an in-depth breakdown of how the proposed and current processes work, check out the Brennan Center for Justice's analysis here.