Editorial: Illinois legislators snub voters on fair maps again

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted5/5/2018 3:00 PM
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  • Dozens of state representatives and senators at the Capitol in Springfield claim to support reform of political mapmaking, but they haven't insisted that their leaders let them vote on it.

    Dozens of state representatives and senators at the Capitol in Springfield claim to support reform of political mapmaking, but they haven't insisted that their leaders let them vote on it. Daily Herald File Photo

Here's what's likely to happen regarding fair elections in Illinois unless the people of the state get enraged enough to stop it:

If the polls hold true, Democrat J.B. Pritzker is going to get elected governor in November. Democrats will continue to control both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. And then after the 2020 election, Democrats will draw another set of gerrymandered legislative and Congressional maps designed to solidify the party's power. Because of a population exodus, Illinois will lose one, perhaps even two seats in Congress and the new maps will ensure those departing seats are Republican.

If you're a Democrat or lean that way, you might think, well, those aren't the worst things that could happen. But this isn't a partisan matter. In some red states, the exact opposite happens: Republicans hold enough power to gerrymander maps for GOP interests. It is wrong no matter which party is drawing the maps.

This isn't a question of which party controls the levers of government. It's a question of whether the politicians or the people do.

It is the single interest that supersedes all others -- the protection of our democracy.

This vision we described at the opening of the editorial? Unfortunately, as it relates to political maps, it is all but certain unless the people speak out; unless our legislators gather together to display courage, independence and integrity; unless Pritzker, if he's elected, puts people above party and exercises the values he so far only advertises; unless the voters hold politicians accountable.

In his editorial board interview with the Sun-Times in January, candidate Pritzker said, "We need independent maps. I believe we want more competitive elections across the state of Illinois. Right now people feel like they walk into the voting booth and because of the way their district has been gerrymandered they really only have one choice. I think we need competitive elections."

Like Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is seeking re-election, Pritzker has vowed to veto any gerrymandered maps if he wins. But will he? It is up to all of us to require not only that he keep that pledge, but even prior to the election, he show real leadership in the push for a fair map referendum. He did not provide that leadership this spring.

All of this is fundamental. We the people ought to be electing our representatives, but the way it works now in Illinois, the politicians elect them by the way they draw the maps.

The vast majority of districts are safe, unlikely to change party affiliation no matter what happens. That's because that's how the dominant party wants it to be.

There was a lot of talk this spring about finally changing all that. Sponsor after sponsor after sponsor signed on to legislation that would put a referendum on the ballot to amend the state constitution to provide for a fairer way of designing the maps.

The deadline for all of that to happen is Monday. Guess what? Nothing happened. All these sponsors and co-sponsors, but the legislation never got called for a vote.

In the Senate, there were enough sponsors to adopt the legislation even if only the sponsors voted for it. But it never got called. These sponsors? If they're so real, why aren't they gathering together to force Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to bring their legislation to the floor?

All show, no results. A lot of talk for the voters, but no action on their behalf.

Be outraged. Get involved. Demand action.

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