Leaders of the group collecting signatures to get a vote on taking politics out of Illinois’ legislative map-making process say they’re ready for any potential challenge. Jim Bray, spokesman for the group Independent Map Amendment, said no organized opposition has yet made itself known, but they’re doing their best to be prepared, including fundraising. “If we’re taken to court, we’ll have to raise money. It’ll have to be lawyers who will have to defend it,” Bray said. He added that a previous attempt for a referendum was struck down in the courts, but that allowed for the group to prepare for a possible challenge this go-round. “We’ve been able to adjust the language in the amendment and we believe it will stand the test,” Bray said, “but we will just have to wait for a challenge.” Last month during a news conference, House Speaker Michael Madigan said a group opposing the effort is concerned such a change would reduce minority representation in some districts. The deadline for the Independent Map Amendment group to turn in petitions to the State Board of Elections for review is May 8.
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Bray said signature collectors across the state shouldn’t wait to turn in their sheets to the group. “Please get those petition pages notarized and mailed into us because we need to assemble them with all the others and make them count,” Bray said. The effort needs a little more than 290,000 valid signatures to place the referendum in front of voters this November. Bray said people circulating petitions have gathered 500,000 signatures so far and they plan to get more than 600,000 signatures put together to send to Springfield, a sight Bray said will be impressive. “It’s like a long file cabinet drawer, and by long I do mean practically the length of a semi trailer truck,” Bray said. Bray said petitioners can continue to circulate petitions but they should send them into the group no later than April 21.