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Better way to draw districts

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

A little more than a month remains to collect enough signatures to amend the state constitution and make democracy fair in Illinois.

Yes! for Independent Maps is a coalition of groups that have joined forces to reform the redistricting process in Illinois.

Every 10 years after the Census, state House, Senate and congressional district maps are redrawn by politicians.

The party in control in Springfield always draws the maps to help its party and hurt the opposite party.

Legislative Democrats controlled the process last time around in 2011, and the results were predictable: Democrats gained seven seats in the state House in the 2012 election, five seats in the state Senate, and four seats in the congressional delegation.

Had Republicans had control, it would have been the other way around.

That’s why politics must be removed from the redistricting process so that politicians are made more accountable to the people.

Yes! for Independent Maps needs 298,000 valid signatures by May 4 to get its proposed state amendment on the November ballot and allow voters to decide.

The Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment would establish an 11-member Independent Redistricting Commission to draw the maps. According to the coalition’s website, the amendment includes safeguards to create the most nonpartisan, unbiased commission possible.

Among those safeguards:

n The commission would include only qualified Illinois residents. Politicians, lobbyists, and state contractors aren’t eligible.

n The process ensures that the commission reflects the geographic and demographic diversity of the state, as well as a balance between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated residents.

n Legislative leaders from both sides can each strike up to five names from the pool of qualified applicants. Republicans likely will strike the most partisan Democrats and vice versa, leaving behind a more independent group.

n A lottery system ensures that even if a few partisan actors sneak into the pool, they are unlikely to be appointed to the final commission.

CHANGE Illinois, Citizen Advocacy Center, League of Women Voters of Illinois, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and Reboot Illinois are among the organizations that form Yes! for Independent Maps coalition.

Count us among the supporters as well.

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