Statement on Illinois Redistricting Proposals
- dan vicuna, brian gladstein
Over the past week, two proposals have been filed in the Illinois General Assembly to reform how district maps are drawn in Illinois. Common Cause is a national leader on redistricting reform as was demonstrated by our work to pass meaningful redistricting reform in California. Common Cause Illinois believes that a mapping process can be developed that is non-partisan, effective, and supports the protection of minority voting rights.
Here in Illinois, Common Cause continues to be a supporter of the Independent Maps campaign and their attempt to place an amendment to voters on the 2016 ballot. In the same spirit, Common Cause Illinois has analyzed SJRCA 30 (Sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul) and House Bill HJRCA 58 (Sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks). A summary of our analysis is below.
Senate Bill SJRCA 30
SJRCA 30 falls far short of the democracy reform Illinois residents deserve. It does not address the primary problem with redistricting in Illinois: the conflict of interest in allowing legislators to manipulate their own districts and congressional boundaries for political advantage. This bill does not prevent partisan gerrymandering and only removes politicians from the process under extraordinary circumstances that are unlikely to ever occur. Despite the addition of some neutral standards and public hearings, politician control over the process means that standards will be interpreted for maximum self-interest and public input can be ignored without consequence. With the prospect of strong reform on the ballot this November, we are asking senators to go back to the drawing board and draft a bill that will truly give Illinois residents a voice in their own representation.
House Bill HJRCA 58
HJRCA 58 provides a promising path forward for ending the unfair manipulation of legislative and representative districts in Illinois. Common Cause strongly supports the bill’s creation of an independent commission tasked with drawing General Assembly districts after hearing public testimony in open meetings around the state. We are working closely with Rep. Franks to improve the criteria that will guide the drafting process, strengthen conflict of interest provisions, ensure the greatest possible independence from political leaders, protect minority voting rights, and strengthen the ability of Illinois voters to elect candidates of their choice. We commend Rep. Franks on this effort and look forward to a continued collaboration to end political gerrymandering in Illinois.