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Redistricting Not In The Cards For State

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 30, 2010 2:00PM

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With redistricting coming up in 2011, Democrats in the state legislature have been trying to get approval to put a constitutional amendment that would change the way districts are redrawn on November's ballot. But yesterday their proposal to allow voters the opportunity to decide fell just short of the necessary support. Needing 71 votes from the State House to be put on the ballot for November, the Dems fell short with 69 votes; they control 70 seats and Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) voted no on the proposal. The state constitution calls for districts to be re-drawn after each 10-year census so as to adjust the districts to keep up with current population changes. The last three times (1981, 1991, and 2001), though, the redistricting effort has come down to a lottery which involves pulling a name out of a hat. Former journalist/government aide Mike Lawrence explained the process to WBEZ last year:

What happens is the lottery actually determines whether a Democrat or Republican will be appointed to an eight-member commission to become the ninth member and therefore tilt the commission one way or another.

Republican opponents of the measure - as well as Rep. Franks - didn't like the Dems' plan because it kept the re-drawing power with legislators. Even Gov. Quinn broke party ranks on the issue, saying, "I'm not excited about that. It's awfully complicated. I'm not sure it's a reform or not, to be honest." This didn't sit will with Dems in the state legislature, including House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) who said, “Maybe he needs to spend more time in the General Assembly checking in with us, because I think he’s dead wrong.”

Republicans had attempted to push through their own plan, the Fair Map Amendment, which would have established 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. When the proposal was blocked in committee, citizen groups took up the cause in a petition drive to accrue 300,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. But according to the Illinois League of Women Voters, who spear-headed the drive, those efforts will also fall short meaning we're likely headed towards a fourth-straight random hat-drawn lottery to decide any new district boundaries.