A reform group is trying to take the politics out of politics. The group Yes for Independent Maps is pushing a constitutional amendment to remove the responsibility for drawing of the districts for the General Assembly from the General Assembly itself and give it to an independent commission. Would such a commission really be independent?
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“Anyone can apply to be on this commission – except any elected official from the lowest level to the highest level in the state, any state employee, any state lobbyist, any federal lobbyist, anyone that has a contract with the state, where they own the firm or where they’re a manager at the firm, and people who live under the same roof as any of the people I just described are not allowed to serve on this commission,” said Michael Kolenc, the campaign manager for Yes for Independent Maps.
Furthermore, the legislative leaders would be able to strike from consideration individuals they consider to be partisan; the final commission would have four Democrats, four Republicans and three unaffiliated individuals, and any approved map must have the assent of at least two of each.
Kolenc says this would be better than the current system, in which the party in charge draws the maps, which is what Democrats did in 2011. In years past, Illinois had divided government, and a system that was supposed to produce compromise instead produced brinksmanship, with one party eventually selected randomly to draw the maps.
Maps are re-drawn every 10 years ostensibly to accommodate population shifts, but politicians use the occasion to protect incumbents and maximize results for their party.
Yes for Independent Maps is working on gathering the 298,000 signatures needed to get this on the ballot in November.