Can’t give up on Fair Map

The Illinois Fair Map Amendment did not make the Nov. 2 ballot, but supporters have no reason to hang their heads.

The five-month campaign to gather petition signatures generated surprising support for the grass-roots effort to reform Illinois’ broken legislative redistricting process.

The League of Women Voters of Illinois deserves accolades for coordinating this huge citizen initiative.

Fair Map Amendment supporters, such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau, and other groups, worked hard to educate the public and gather signatures.

Along the way, thousands of people were educated about the abuses of Illinois’ redistricting system, particularly how it elevates the interests of politicians above those of the people.

When politicians use a mechanism of government to draw self-serving maps that benefit themselves and their parties, it’s not merely a conflict of interest.

It is corruption, plain and simple.

And when the crooked lines of those gerrymandered maps run rampant through counties, cities and neighborhoods, the result is a confusing mess that only a visually impaired mapmaker – or a partisan politician – could love.

We’re pleased that the Fair Map petition drive made redistricting reform a major issue as it exposed Illinois’ terrible redistricting process, whose infamous tiebreaker consists of drawing a name from a hat.

We’re pleased that more than 120,000 Illinois voters cared enough about redistricting reform to sign their names to petitions demanding it.

While 120,000 is far short of the 288,000 valid signatures necessary, the number is not bad for a five-month petition campaign.

On average, 24,000 signatures were collected each month.

Had the campaign sustained that pace for 12 months, exactly 288,000 signatures would have been collected.

Think about it.

If the next campaign is launched 18 months in advance of the petition deadline – the maximum allowable time frame – it’s well within the realm of possibility that the required number of signatures could be collected.

2012 isn’t that far away. The second time could be the charm.

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