Republicans introduce legislation to ensure an independent redistricting process
Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Senate Republican Caucus Chair Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and House Assistant Minority Leader Tim Butler (R-Springfield) today introduced the People’s Independent Maps Act to allow Illinois legislative redistricting maps to be created by an independent commission, rather than politicians.
“The People’s Independent Maps Act will ensure that politicians, including Gov. Pritzker, keep their promise to the people of Illinois to support an independent redistricting map,” McConchie said. “Under the current process, which was used by Democrats 10 years ago, voters have had fewer choices and the legislature is more unbalanced than ever. The legislation moves Illinois from a broken system where politicians choose their voters to a process where the people choose their politicians.”
The People’s Independent Maps Act, Senate Bill 1325, uses identical language from SJRCA 0004, a constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission introduced by Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) in 2019. That resolution garnered 37 co-sponsors in the Senate including 18 Democrats. A similar independent commission amendment co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Chris Welch (D-Hillside) passed the House in 2016 with 105 YES votes.
“For years, we have continuously heard the Democrats talk about their support for a fair map process when it was politically advantageous, but have done nothing to advance the issue,” Durkin said. “Now is the time for Governor Pritzker and his Democrat colleagues to finally match their words with actions by supporting the People’s Independent Maps Act.”
Current Illinois law allows legislators to draw and approve a map by June 30. This legislation would allow legislators to recuse themselves from the map process all together.
The People’s Independent Maps Act:
- Gives the Supreme Court the power to appoint sixteen independent, citizen commissioners to the Independent Redistricting Commission within 30 days of becoming law.
- The makeup of the Commission would be required to reflect the ethnic, gender and racial demographics of the state.
- Party affiliation would be evenly split in addition to members without party affiliation.
- Legislators, state employees and lobbyists are prohibited from serving on the commission.
- The Commission would be required to hold at least 10 public hearings throughout the state before adopting a plan, with at least 4 hearings after a map is proposed.
- The commission will release a map within 30 days of receipt of the census redistricting data.
- This legislation would only apply to the 2021 redistricting cycle.
“Communities in Illinois deserve a fair and transparent redistricting process,” said Latino Community Advocate Jesus Solorio. “The People’s Independent Maps Act gives a voice to every voter across our state. Candidate Pritzker promised to support an independent, fair, and transparent process and he needs to keep his promise to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised with yet another gerrymandered map.”
Good government groups have been pushing for independent commission for decades and more than 600,000 citizens signed a petition to let voters decide on independent commissions in 2015 and 2016. Also in 2016, then-President Barack Obama delivered a speech in the Illinois House Chamber where he specifically called upon lawmakers to change the way districts are drawn with the data from the 2020 census.
“Millions of Illinoisans believe that politicians shouldn’t draw their own maps or pick their own voters,” Barickman said. “The people know that if one party rejects an independent process, it only serves to fulfill a partisan purpose.”
Public polls have shown more than 75 percent of Illinois voters support an independent process that puts citizens in control of drawing election districts instead of the politicians.
“The most basic protection against gerrymandering, and the partisan corruption it fosters, is to have a process in place to ensure all citizens are fairly represented,” Butler said. “Establishing an independent commission, removed from partisan politics and subject to public scrutiny is not only logical, but it is overwhelmingly supported by the public. Nearly 600,000 Illinoisans supported an independent commission ballot initiative in 2016. Although Illinoisans were not given the chance to vote for it, there is no reason we can’t create the commission through legislative statute instead. The Governor can prove he was serious about his pledge to support fairly drawn maps by calling on both sides of the aisle to act now.”
Gov. Pritzker has supported independent redistricting on numerous occasions. As a candidate in 2018, he was asked: “Will you pledge as governor to veto any state legislative redistricting map proposal that is in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies?”
He responded: “Yes, I will pledge to veto. We should amend the constitution to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps, but in the meantime, I would urge Democrats and Republicans to agree to an independent commission to handle creating a new legislative map.”