Support the Illinois Fair Map Amendment

This week a statewide citizen’s initiative was launched to change the way in which our state’s legislative districts are drawn. The Illinois Fair Map Amendment is the fruit of months of study and discussion by various better government and reform groups in Illinois. If enacted, an independent commission will draw future legislative maps— maps that will specifically be required to not favor one political party over another.

This is in stark contrast to our current system where those already in office draw their own maps. In the last three decades there have been three maps in which a ‘lot’ drawn out of a hat gave complete redistricting authority to a single party. The Democrats won two, the Republicans one. In each case, maps were drawn by the winner to favor their own party and to disenfranchise the citizens of the other. The real losers, of course, are: representational democracy and the people of Illinois. Take the 110th District, for example. Having come into politics after the last map was drawn, I found a district that had been created by the intentional slicing up of whole communities and counties into bits and pieces. In fact, the new 110th district was cut from portions of six prior legislative districts.

And while it makes little sense that myself and Rep. Bob Flider split Arthur, literally, right down the middle or that Savoy has seven legislators, the real damage done to the fabric of democracy is the complete, entrenching control it gives legislative leaders. By all but guaranteeing their legislative majorities, complete control of the ship of state rests in too few hands. And we’ve all seen how that has turned out for our state as of late. Certainly, this isn’t what the founding fathers had in mind? The fact that we are the only state in the union that has such a crazy process for redistricting, pretty much answers that question.

But to change this, we must first change the Illinois Constitution. Unfortunately, the entrenched elites in Springfield are never going to put such an amendment to the Constitution on the ballot and let the taxpayer’s have a say. They had their chance when they flat out refused to include redistricting reform in the most recent so-called “reform” bill to be voted on in Springfield.

This is why I’m writing to enthusiastically endorse the Fair Map citizen’s initiative. The 2010 census is just around the corner and it is imperative that we have in place a new process that empowers citizens, not legislators. As I sat through a hearing on redistricting last summer, I heard someone put it this way, “voters should pick their legislators. Legislators should not be picking their voters.” Here, here. I urge everyone to go to ILFairMap.com and get involved. Together we can take back our state.

Chapin Rose,

state representative