Print version: Fair Map far short of petition goal

John Guidroz

The final push is here for the Illinois Fair Map Coalition, and it's got to be a big one.

Less than two weeks remain for the coalition to collect enough signatures to get a Republican-backed redistricting measure on the November ballot. Roughly 120,000 residents have signed petitions supporting the measure, but the coalition needs about 280,000 signatures to get the item on the ballot in the next two weeks.

The Fair Map Coalition has to submit the petitions to the secretary of state's office by May 3. The coalition is supporting the Fair Map Amendment, which would let a commission chosen by the four legislative leaders draw legislative district maps.

Currently, the legislature and the governor draw the maps first.

Jan Czarnik with the Illinois League of Women Voters said Monday that staffers are still receiving petitions and do not have time to count every signature.

"We look at the petitions to see if they are finished ... and when they are finished, we literally dump them into piles by election jurisdiction," she said.

Czarnik said the coalition could fall short of its petition goal only if people were not passing out enough petitions in the last two weeks.

"We're having absolutely no trouble getting people to sign the petitions," she said.

Chris Butler, a coalition staff worker, said that dozens of church groups are circulating petitions. Petition staffers took signatures from passersby during the news conference. The staffers received 10 signatures from Sangamon County residents. Residents from Menard and Cook counties also signed the forms.

Carolyn Oxtoby, 78, of Springfield, signed the petition, saying "it's a farce" that lawmakers draw legislative district maps.

Top Republican leaders have pushed the Fair Map amendment through legislative circles but seen it stall in the Democrat-controlled process.

Meanwhile, a redistricting proposal backed by Democratic lawmakers passed the Senate last week with a 36-22 vote. Only Democrats voted in favor of the measure, which would still allow the legislature and the governor to draw the maps first.

A House committee is expected to consider the bill at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Cross said he does not think any House Republicans will vote for the measure. It needs at least one Republican vote to be approved in the House.

"Their bill does nothing to change the process," he said. "Why on earth are we even suggesting that their bill is reform?"

John Guidroz can be reached at 217-782-6882.

For more on the Fair Map Coalition, visit