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Illinois Lawmakers Urge Redistricting Re-Do Ahead of Midterm Election

Illinois State Board of Elections
Illinois state legislative maps, drawn in after the 2010 Census

As the midterm election draws near, some state lawmakers want to change the way Illinois’ political districts are drawn. They want to do that by giving voters a chance to change the constitution.
The Democrats want to hand off control of legislative map drawings to what they call an independent commission. Republicans agree, but say they want more people on the commission and more public hearings.

Both also say they want to change the constitution to take partisan advantage out of future map making.

State Senator Michael Connelly (R, Wheaton) is confident the measures have public support.

“It’s the competitive districts everywhere that I think most people want, because more people are getting involved in the political process," he said. "[It] also creates opportunities where sometimes, to get re-elected, you have to collaborate with the other side.”

As a Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering and an upcoming census loom, Madeleine Doubek of the Better Government Association says now is the perfect time for change.

“It’s time to give Illinoisans a chance to try a different, open map-making process," she said. "That would be a terrific step forward in rebuilding the trust voters ought to have in their democracy.”

If either effort manages to get through the legislature, a redistricting question could be on voter ballots in November.  

A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton said Cullerton is "looking forward to discussion" on any proposed amendment. Separately, House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman said any change in how legislative maps are drawn must comply with federal voting laws before the House will take it up. 

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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