Senator Chuck Weaver is urging Illinoisans to speak up and help put a fair maps amendment on the ballot for the next election, giving voters the power to pick their legislators instead of letting lawmakers pick their voters.
The 37th District Senator joined his Senate Republican colleagues at a Capitol press conference February 6, supporting the passage of Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4, a bipartisan measure that would give voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing legislative maps.
“The Illinois Constitution establishes how our state government is supposed to work for the residents of Illinois, as well as to prevent elected officials from abusing their power. However, our current system of drawing legislative district boundaries clearly favors the politicians instead of the people,” Senator Weaver said. “We have the ability to fix this problem. Working together, we can put a bipartisan redistricting referendum on the ballot for the next election so the people of Illinois can decide this question for themselves.”
Every 10 years, following the decennial U.S. Census, Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps are redrawn. Illinois currently has a winner-take-all system for the redistricting process, where the politicians who are in control right now have the power to draw the maps for the next 10 years. This gives them the ability to shift district lines to create an advantage for the members of their party, which is often referred to as “gerrymandering.” This system is what creates strangely-shaped districts and uncompetitive elections.
Senate Republican lawmakers are giving the people of Illinois the opportunity to voice their support for fairer maps in Illinois by visiting http://senategop.state.il.us/ and signing the fair maps petition. Weaver says a petition is also available on his legislative website at http://senatorweaver.com/.
“Healthy democracy requires competitive elections and new ideas. Our current system, which gives the party in power ultimate authority to redraw legislative maps, inhibits that,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington. “We need to take the power of drawing legislative maps away from politicians and give the people of this state the opportunity to vote on a new redistricting system.”
Sponsored by lawmakers from both parties, Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings to allow Illinois residents to weigh in.
Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 would place the question of fair maps on the ballot for the next statewide election. So far, however, entrenched political leaders haven’t allowed similar bills to advance, despite a nationwide call for fair map plans from members of both parties.