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Incumbent protection

To the Editor:

All senators and representatives are up for re-election today under the new maps passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in June 2011 using the 2010 Census data.

Because the maps were drawn by the Legislature for their benefit, 69 of the 118 Illinois House seats and 30 of the 59 state Senate seats have no opposition. In these districts, you will find only one person on the ballot.

The Chicago Tribune pronounced the maps the “Incumbent Protection Act of 2012.” All are up for re-election, but with no competition we will be faced with more of the same. McHenry County now has all or parts of five state representative districts and three state senate districts. Only one House district (52nd) and one Senate district (26th) have contested races. For the rest of the county, there will be no choice on the ballot.

In testimony before legislative redistricting committees and in a federal lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters of Illinois, the League claimed that the gerrymandering of legislative districts has resulted in districts tilted to favor one political party over the other and is rigged to guarantee the re-elections of favored incumbents.

This means that voters in Illinois seldom have real or meaningful choices in our elections and that important policy outcomes suffer as a result.

Reform needs to outlaw the pattern of incumbent protection by removing politicians from the process and giving control back to the voters.

To learn more about the League, visit the Illinois website, LWVIL.org, or for McHenry County, mchenrycounty.il.lwvnet.org.

Paula Ekstrom, Co-president

League of Women Voters of McHenry County

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