Lawmakers must act on Fair Maps vote
In a democracy, voters are supposed to have the power to choose their elected officials. But here in Illinois, politicians have the power to draw legislative districts to their own liking -- basically allowing them to handpick their voters by carving up districts with prefabricated Democratic or Republican majorities.
It's time to put the power back in voters' hands. That's why I introduced the Fair Maps Amendment (HJRCA 41), which would empower an independent commission to draw the legislative district maps throughout the state.
Those commission members will face a challenging task. Drawing fair districts isn't as simple as slicing the state of Illinois into a bunch of equal-sized squares. Fair redistricting focuses on the people and communities in each district. So in addition to making sure that each district contains roughly the same number of people, the commissioners also must make sure that Illinois' new districts have reasonable boundaries and ensure that minority communities have a fair voice in choosing their lawmakers.
Your legislators in Springfield will have to move quickly to make this work. To put the Fair Maps Amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot for voters' approval, both the state House and Senate have to approve the amendment by a three-fifths majority no later than May 3.
The first step toward increasing people's trust in government is assuring voters that their elections are honest and that their voices are heard. By introducing this amendment, I hope to begin a statewide conversation about the meaning of fairness and the importance of truly representative government.
As elected officials, we should trust the voters of Illinois to make wise, well-informed choices. With the Fair Maps Amendment, we can take effective action to reform Illinois' redistricting system and strengthen people's faith in our state government.
State Rep. Terra Costa Howard