A lawyer who has worked for House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Illinois Democratic Party dominates a panel discussion on changing the redistricting process.
Attorney Michael Kasper successfully argued against the 2014 attempt at putting redistricting reform on the ballot. At a Chicago panel discussion hosted by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, he argued the current system doesn't need to be changed, and doing so would result in a process with less representation for minorities.
Kasper says if voters don't like how legislators are drawing districts, they can vote or run against them, an option not available if an independent redistricting commission is established.
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"You cannot run against a commissioner. You cannot vote against a commissioner," Kasper said.
Kasper accused those pushing for the ballot initiative of using redistricting reform as a cover for helping Republicans win more seats in the legislature.
"I get it, they want to change the rules because they don't win the elections here in Illinois," Kasper said, adding that for Democrat-leaning voters, the years the party has controlled the legislature have been positive, pointing to the state's same-sex marriage law and the repeal of the death penalty.
Ruth Greenwood, an attorney for the Independent Maps group behind the current initiative, says changing the process won't benefit one party over another, and will allow for greater public input on where district lines are drawn.
"Communities would get up there and say 'no, you've put it down the highway, but you need to put it down the river, because that's where the community really is,'" Greenwood said.
Independent Maps says its already collected more than 300,000 signatures, above what's required to put a redistricting referendum on the ballot in 2016. It aims to submit more than double that amount.