•September 23, 2015•
By Jim Nowlan
NP Guest Columnist
This column runs the risk of being boring (“So what’s new?” readers wonder) because we have been here before. But the topic of redistricting reform is important. It represents the one fundamental thing you can do to refresh Illinois politics, say its backers.
In Illinois, members of the state legislature draw their own districts, and as a result in the last election, 97 percent of incumbents who ran for re-election won; most ran without opposition.
Surprised? We call it a process in which legislators select their voters rather than vice versa.
In California, in contrast, a scrupulously independent commission draws the lines, without regard to political party or incumbency. As a result, in 2014, half the members elected to the legislature there were new.
Illinois civic leaders have embarked on a “third time’s a charm” effort to create in our state a system similar to that in California.
In 2010, the League of Women Voters mounted an under-powered effort to do this, yet failed. In 2013-14, a coalition of civic groups tried again, yet the effort came up short again, primarily because of a botched petition drive.
Now, a broad coalition that includes the League, the Farm Bureau, AARP, the Latino Institute, former governor Jim Edgar, and some deep-pocket contributors is at it again, and I predict the well-organized and well-funded effort will succeed in getting the issue on the ballot next year. Read More