Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment (2014)

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The Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment, also known as the "Yes for Independent Maps" campaign, may appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Illinois as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would create an independent, nonpartisan commission, consisting of eleven members, for the purpose of redrawing district lines for the Illinois General Assembly.[1] The measure is sponsored by Yes for Independent Maps.[2]

The amendment would also create a process for selecting members of the commission that is open to application by any Illinois citizen. The method for determining the final eleven-member commission is outlined by the proposed amendment as follows:

  • A nonpartisan Applicant Review Panel, to be appointed by the Illinois Auditor General, eliminates any applicants who may have conflicts of interest, such as lobbyists and public officials, and produces a pool consisting of 100 finalists.
  • From that pool, the four top legislative leaders in the state may each eliminate up to five applicants from the pool.
  • Seven members of the commission are then chosen by lottery and would form a group comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans and three unaffiliated with either party.
  • The final four commissioners are then chosen as nominees from each of the four top legislative leaders.[3]

Background

See also:Illinois District Boundaries Amendment (2010)

Following the 2010 U.S. Census, Illinois faced the responsibility of redrawing legislative district lines in accordance with the state constitution. At that time several proposals were put forth by the legislature as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and one by the group Illinois Fair Map Amendment Coalition as an initiated constitutional amendment. Ultimately none of the proposed constitutional amendments made it to the ballot that year.

In 2011 Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed the controversial Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011, which required that legislative districts be redrawn to ensure people of "racial and language minorities" were given the opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. Because both the state legislature and the governor's office were controlled by Democrats at that time, many argued that the new redistricting procedures served to protect the Democratic majority and keep incumbents in office.[4]

Text of measure

Constitutional changes

If approved by voters, the measure would amend Section 3 of Article IV of the Constitution of Illinois.[3]

The full text of the proposed amendment can be read here.

Illinois Constitution
Flag of Illinois.png
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVSchedule

Support

The measure is sponsored by Yes for Independent Maps, formerly known as CHANGE Illinois!, a coalition of groups and individuals with an interest in redistricting reform.[2]

Supporters

The following organizations are listed by Yes for Independent Maps as supporters of the initiative:[5]

  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago
  • Better Government Association
  • Business and Professional People for the Public Interest
  • Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
  • Common Cause Illinois
  • Latino Policy Forum
  • Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
  • Illinois Public Interest Research Group
  • Metropolis Strategies
  • Reboot Illinois
  • Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Arguments

  • Yes for Independent Maps says that fixing the redistricting system would be a step in the right direction for Illinois because it would increase voters' ability to hold elected officials accountable. The group argues that legislative control of redistricting essentially allows "politicians [to] choose their voters, instead of the people deciding who will represent them."[6]
  • The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argues that gerrymandering is one of the chief reasons why the needs of voters’ and legislative outcomes are not aligned. The Committee adds that even though independent citizen commissions cannot possibly please everyone, they are a better alternative to allowing partisan lawmakers to draw their own districts.[7]
  • In an op-ed published by the Chicago Tribune, Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, argued that an independent redistricting process is necessary because the risk is too great that politicians drawing district lines will place their own interests above those of the public. He compared it to the Federal Reserve, which he says exists because "we don't trust elected officials to set interest rates based on the economy's condition instead of their own re-election needs." He also argued that a primary reason to support the amendment is because redistricting commissions work, highlighting the success of the California commission created in 2010. He pointed out that the amendment would establish a system very similar to California's and that there is reason to suspect similar results in Illinois.[8]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Illinois ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • The Peoria Journal-Star said, "There are no guarantees in life but better government starts with better representation, which begins with voters having a greater array of high-quality candidates on a fair playing field...How many more legislative sessions like this last one can Illinoisans tolerate? See how you can help by going to changethedistricts.org."[9]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Illinois Constitution

Initiated constitutional amendments in Illinois require signatures totaling eight percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last election. These names must be submitted six months before the general election. Also, initiated amendments in Illinois can only apply to "structural and procedural subjects" contained in Article IV of the state constitution. Once on the ballot, the amendment must receive either a supermajority vote of 60% of those voting on the question or a simple majority of those who cast a ballot for any office in that election.

To qualify for the 2014 ballot, supporters must collect and submit 298,399 signatures by May 5, 2014.

Similar measures

See also

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