Editorial: Put redistricting in our hands

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Last week a quiet effort was launched to put a referendum on the statewide ballot for the November, 2010, general election. If successful, the amendment would significantly change the culture of our government in Illinois, and offer a realistic opportunity to empower the voters, while making politicians more accountable to the public.

Entitled the Illinois Fair Map Amendment, the effort will require 500,000 signatures by registered voters in the state before May 2 to have the question posted on the November ballot. The effort has already drawn the support of the Illinois League of Women Voters, the Campaign for Political Reform, the Better Government Association, and others.

The Illinois Fair Map Amendment is designed to take legislative map-drawing power from politicians and put it into the hands of an independent commission. The process would be open to the public, with transparency and public oversight at every step. County lines, municipal boundaries, and communities of interest would be respected as much as possible.

The process represents a significant change from business as usual in Illinois. Under the current system, state politicians draw the district lines, assuring the power of their party. In 1991, Republicans drew the map to benefit their party. Ten years later, Democrats did the same thing.

Neither outcome has benefited the people of Illinois, and absolute power by one political party, or the other, corrupts absolutely, as the state’s track record already shows.

Our state faces the worst budget crisis in its history, tallying some $12 billion. This situation threatens every aspect of state government. Redistricting reform would increase the likelihood that responsive, accountable legislators would be elected. If they don’t perform, it’s more likely they would be replaced.

That is a radical change from the current system, which re-elected incumbents 98 percent of the time between 2002 and 2008.

With the next remap coming in 2011, we urge you to check out ilfairmap.com on the Web for more information on the initiative.

Freeport Journal-Standard