In America, elections are supposed to represent the will of the people, not the will of politicians. But that doesn’t stop partisan officials from manipulating voting maps to keep themselves and their party in power. The redistricting process is used to box potential challengers out of districts and to design districts that maximize support for those in control of the process.
That’s not what democracy is all about. We need to ensure the process of drawing districts is impartial so that our government can truly be of, by, and for the people.
In the past, government reform advocates including Common Cause Illinois have supported a Fair Maps Amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would change the redistricting process by:
- Removing politicians and sitting legislators from drawing their own districts
- Establishing an independent redistricting commission that must be demographically, politically, and geographically representative of our state to draw our Congressional and General Assembly maps
- Protecting the constitutional rights of communities of color to elect a representative of their choosing
- Adding transparency by requiring the release of all communications made by the Commission as well as any data used to create and propose any and all maps
- Giving the public the opportunity to participate in the process by requiring at least 30 public hearings on the maps before a final vote is taken
Many states, like Illinois, set the timeline for redistricting in their state Constitutions. Our Constitution requires the General Assembly to draw legislative and representative districts in the year following the census (in 2021), and to do so by June 30th (this deadline doesn’t apply to redrawing federal congressional districts). If redistricting does not happen by June 30th, the Constitution requires the creation of a bipartisan commission.
Whatever the process to redraw the districts in Illinois, Governor Pritzker has the ultimate authority to approve or veto a new map. Governor Pritzker has said he’ll veto a map that isn’t fair. Newly elected speaker Welch has also promised a fair map, born of an “open and transparent process.” But what does fair mean?
For us, it ultimately means using the most current and accurate data that is most representative of our communities across the state.
Fighting for a better redistricting process is one of the ways we are fighting for better elections in Illinois. Every eligible American deserves to have their voice heard and their vote counted in selecting the people and policies that will determine the future of our communities. Join Common Cause as we work to improve every level of the voting process.