Redistricting Initiative Takes Next Step Toward November Ballot

A United States map showing redistricting methods by state

Yellow = legislature-based redistricting. Green = commission-based redistricting. Purple = non-partisan staff develop maps, then voted on by legislature. Grey = no redistricting (only one legislative district).

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A grassroots movement pushing a constitutional amendment for November's ballot turned in more than 570 thousand petition signatures to the Illinois State Board of Elections Friday.  The group Independent Maps wants to change the state's redistricting laws so an independent commission draws the legislative boundaries, and not the Illinois legislature.

Independent Maps chairman Dennis FitzSimons says the current system allows incumbent politicians, who want to protect their seats, to create the legislative maps.

"Those signatures and petition pages in there are totally indicative of how much Illinois voters want reform," FitzSimons said, "and how much they want their vote to count."

A previous attempt to get redistricting on the ballot failed in 2014, but FitzSimons says supporters changed their strategy in an attempt to stave off legal challenges.

"Those that are going to defend the amendment were very much involved," he said, "along with lots of interest groups, lots of minority groups.  So, that's a big difference.

Critics of the proposal say it doesn't protect minority voting rights, and would suppress the voice of people of color.

The Illinois House and Senate each passed different redistricting reform legislation last week, but neither chamber called the other's bills to the floor for a vote.

Story source: WILL