Judge Blocks Illinois Redistricting Plan From Ballot

 
In this May 6, 2016, file photo, boxes are stacked that will hold signature petitions at the Illinois State Board of Election office in Springfield, Ill.

In this May 6, 2016, file photo, boxes are stacked that will hold signature petitions at the Illinois State Board of Election office in Springfield, Ill. A measure giving Illinois voters a chance to decide if an independent commission should draw the state's political boundaries is a step closer to the ballot.

Seth Perlman/Assocated Press

A Cook County judge has ruled that a voter referendum seeking to change the way Illinois draws its political boundaries is unconstitutional for the November ballot. It's the second time that such an attempt has been blocked in the courts. In both instances, a lawsuit brought by an attorney linked to top Democrats argued that it didn't meet constitutional muster.

A group called Independent Maps had made revisions since the 2014 effort. Its plan called for an 11-member commission to draw legislative boundaries, instead of leaving it to the party in power.

The State Board of Elections has said it appears the initiative had enough valid signatures.  

Independent Maps spokeperson Jim Bray says the group will appeal.

"More than 60 percent of Illinoisians say they want to have impartial redistricting, yet the legislators don't want that because they're the ones who get to draw the maps right now and they draw them to favor themselves," he said.

Plan opponents say it didn't meet constitutional requirements, namely that changes to the Legislature be "structural and procedural.''

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a statement shortly after the ruling.

“Today's ruling is a harsh reminder that the political system in Illinois is in need of major reforms," he said. "I hope the decision to deny voters the chance to consider the Independent Map redistricting referendum is appealed and reversed. Independent redistricting is badly needed in our state. A stunning two-thirds of incumbents will be running unopposed in November. That’s certainly not because the politicians in charge are doing such a good job in Springfield. It means the system is broken."

“Legislators in power could have placed the Independent Maps referendum directly on the ballot and avoided this court decision. Instead, they chose to play politics in an effort to protect their own power. That is wrong."

Story source: AP